Royle Family star Ricky Tomlinson backs Keir Starmer in Labour leadership race
Labour-supporting actor Ricky Tomlinson has thrown his weight behind Keir Starmer in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn as party leader.
The Royle Family star said the Shadow Brexit Secretary was the best candidate to defeat "buffoon" Boris Johnson at the next election.
Mr Tomlinson, who was a vocal supporter of Mr Corbyn's leadership, said he was supporting Sir Keir after working with him on the campaign to overturn the convictions of the so-called 'Shrewsbury 24' - a group of builders arrested following strike action in 1972.
The actor - who was jailed for two years over the dispute - has been one of the party's most prominent celebrity supporters, appearing in a video on polling day in December urging voters to back the party or risk seeing the NHS sold off "by the back door".
But in a video released on Friday, the 70-year-old celebrity said the party could not afford to "make any more mistakes" after its historic election defeat.
"I am going to throw my weight behind Keir Starmer and I think you should as well," he said.
"I first came across Keir Starmer some time ago, when get got involved in the Shrewsbury Campaign. [In the Shrewsbury scandal]... myself and five other colleagues were jailed for going on strike in the 70s.
"Since then, I've watched his career grow and grow."
He added: "All the contestants are worthy people - but I've got to throw my weight behind Keir Starmer - and I'm going to ask you do the same.
"We can't make any more mistakes. We just took a terrible drumming at the last election. We've got to overturn this government run by Boris the buffoon.
"So get behind me, join me, and get behind Keir Starmer for the next leader of the Labour Party."
The backing will come as a boost to the Holborn and St Pancras MP after a new poll of Labour members put him narrowly behind Shadow Business Secretary Rebecca Long-Bailey in the leadership race.
The study found 42% of members would give Ms Long-Bailey their first preference ballot under the party's leadership voting system.
Meanwhile, Sir Keir trailed five points behind on 37%.