REBECCA Long-Bailey’s campaign to lead the Labour Party was given a significant boost last night when she won the backing of a major trade union.

Unite’s general secretary Len McCluskey announced that it would endorse the shadow business secretary, as well as Richard Burgon for deputy leader.

Long-Bailey, a frontrunner in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, needs the backing of one more Labour affiliate to secure a place on the ballot paper.

She was endorsed by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’s Union last week.

McCluskey said Long-Bailey has the “brains and the brilliance” to beat Boris Johnson and was the “candidate best placed to take the fight to the Tory Party on behalf of Unite members and their communities”.

“She is standing for unity, socialism and the determination to make Johnson’s term in office short-lived,” he added.

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“Unite is also confident that Richard will make a superb deputy to Becky, displaying the qualities that have long been absent from that post – pride in our values, a passion for our party to succeed and, above all, loyalty to their leader.”

Long-Bailey said she was “honoured” to receive the nomination, and said trade unions will be “at the heart” of Labour’s “path back to power”.

She added: “I didn’t see myself as the kind of person who could ever become an MP. It was Unite, my trade union, that supported me to realise my potential.”

Candidates are required to have won the nomination of three Labour affiliates, including at least two unions, which amount to at least 5% of affiliate members.

The only other route onto the ballot is by receiving nominations from at least 5% of constituency Labour parties.

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Shadow Brexit secretary Keir Starmer and Wigan MP Lisa Nandy have already made it through the nomination process, and Long-Bailey is widely expected to join them in the coming weeks.

Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry also hopes to be in the final stage of the contest.

Earlier in the day, Labour announced it had cancelled its leadership hustings in Leeds today after Starmer pulled out as his mother-in-law is critically ill in hospital.

He said on Thursday that he was suspending campaigning after his mother-in-law was involved in a serious accident.

General secretary Jennie Formby said that to ensure fairness to all the candidates, the party’s procedures committee had agreed today’s hustings should not now go ahead. The deputy leadership hustings will take place as planned.