Labour leadership candidate Lisa Nandy’s bid to succeed Jeremy Corbyn received a major boost on Tuesday after winning the endorsement of GMB Union, while Birmingham Yardley MP Jess Phillips has announced that she will withdraw from the running.
GMB general secretary Tim Roache, who announced the union’s decision to back Nandy as their preferred candidate, said that the Wigan MP was “a breath of fresh air in the debate over Labour's future" and understood “the scale of the challenge" facing the party after four successive defeats at the polls.
Meanwhile, Phillips issued a video message paying tribute to her supporters on Tuesday, saying that the next leader must be able to unite the entirety of the Labour movement and that “that person is not me”.
Phillips said: "In order to win the country, we are going to have to find a candidate, in this race, who can do all of that, and then take that message out to the country. A message of hope and change, that things can be better."
She added in her message that she would continue to stand up for Jewish party members who may have felt marginalised by the party’s recent anti-semitism controversies.
Phillips said: “I will always speak out and I promise that we will change the problems in our party that we have seen. I'm going to go out into the country and join the fight back."
Phillips’ withdrawal leaves only four candidates left in the Labour leadership race, which include Nandy, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Emily Thornberry and Sir Keir Starmer.
Sir Keir was the first candidate to qualify for the final ballot, and now GMB’s endorsement has made it highly likely that Nandy will progress to join him.
To qualify for the final ballot, leadership candidates must receive nominations from five per cent of constituency Labour parties or three affiliate groups, two of which must be trade unions.
Nandy already has the backing of the National Union of Mineworkers to add to GMB’s endorsement, meaning that she only has to secure support from one more union or affiliate group to advance.
Sir Keir’s backers include the UK’s largest trade union Unison, the Usdaw union, and environmental campaign group SERA.