Lisa Nandy’s bid to replace Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader has been boosted by the endorsement of the GMB trade union.
The union’s general secretary Tim Roache said the Wigan MP was “a breath of fresh air”.
“The more members see of Lisa in this contest the more impressed they will be by her ambition, optimism and decisive leadership,” he said.
“GMB is proud to nominate her.
“Lisa won’t shy away from the tough challenges or bold decisions that lie ahead, because she knows that after 15 years of losing elections, more of the same won’t cut it.”
The endorsement puts her within touching distance of a place in the final ballot of party members.
Ms Nandy, who already has the support of the National Union of Mineworkers, said: “To win again we’ll have to up our game, recover our ambition and inspire a movement.
“The GMB, the biggest industrial union which speaks for more than half a million workers, has been offering that leadership time and time again in recent years.
“As I seek permission to lead us back to power as Labour’s next prime minister I could not be more proud to have their support.”
As well as announcing its backing for Ms Nandy’s candidacy, the GMB also revealed it is backing shadow education secretary Angela Rayner for deputy leader.
The news comes shortly after one of Ms Nandy’s rivals for the leadership – Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips – withdrew from the race.
Ms Phillips said she was not the person to “unite” the party “at this time”.
The remaining candidates are Ms Nandy, shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer, shadow business secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey and shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry.
Sir Keir, who is considered the frontrunner, became the first candidate to make it through to the final round of the contest.
On Monday he secured the endorsement of the retail union Usdaw, meaning he will be on the ballot paper when party members choose Mr Corbyn’s successor.
Having initially been required to secure the support of Labour MPs and MEPs, candidates are now battling to ensure they make it to the final round.
Leadership hopefuls can do this in one of two ways.
They can get the nominations of three Labour affiliates, including at least two trade unions.
Or they can secure endorsements from at least 5% of constituency Labour parties (CLPs).
Candidates have until 14 February to secure their place on the ballot.
Ms Long Bailey is expected to gain the endorsement of the Unite union, which would put her through to the final round.
Ms Thornberry appears to be facing an uphill battle to join her trio of rivals, however.
A winner will be announced at the beginning of April.