Major boost for Lisa Nandy as GMB union backs her campaign to be Labour leader
Lisa Nandy has received a massive boost in her campaign for the Labour leadership after winning the endorsement of the powerful GMB union.
The Wigan MP is now virtually guaranteed a place on the ballot paper in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, on the day rival candidate Jess Phillips revealed she was pulling out.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache said Ms Nandy was "a breath of fresh air in the debate over Labour’s future".
"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.”
The union, which has 620,000 members, is the third biggest in the country and their endorsement means Ms Nandy needs only one more affiliate to make it through to the final round of the contest.
Mr Roache added: “Lisa won’t shy away from the tough challenges or bold decisions that lie ahead, because she knows that after fifteen years of losing elections, more of the same won’t cut it.
“A candidate entrenched in the union movement, Lisa gets the scale of the challenge.
“She will raise Labour’s game with a bold agenda that puts people first and grounds politics in their lives."
GMB's executive committee heard pitches from the four remaining candidates - Ms Nandy, Keir Starmer, Rebecca Long-Bailey and Emily Thornberry - before making its decision.
Sources said that while they had considered backing Sir Keir, Ms Nandy was the clear winner.
Responding to the announcement Ms Nandy said: "Labour is at a crossroads. To win again we will 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."
The GMB also also nominated Angela Rayner to be Labour’s deputy leader, with Mr Roache saying: “With Lisa and Angela at the helm, Labour can do things differently.
“The party can be relevant, bold, and truly grounded in their lives.”
To make it onto the ballot each candidate needs to secure the nominations from 5% of constituency Labour parties (CLPs) or three affiliate groups - two of which must be trade unions - representing at least 5% of affiliated members.
So far only Sir Keir has gained the minimum threshold of support needed, after being nominated by Unison, the country’s biggest union, Usdaw, and the environmental affiliate group SERA.
But with GMB’s support to add to her previous endorsement from the National Union of Mineworkers, Ms Nandy is on the verge of securing her place.
Of the other two remaining candidates, Ms Long-Bailey is closer than Ms Thornberry to reaching the threshold, after being backed by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union.
A she is also expected to get the support of Unite, when the second-biggest union decides who to nominate later this week.
It means Ms Thornberry will likely now have to rely on the CLP route to the nomination, but so far has only picked up the support of two local branches.
The unions, affiliate groups and CLPs have until 14 February to get their preferences submitted, and the voting will open a week later, with the new leader and deputy announced on 4 April.