Rebecca Long-Bailey’s bid to be the next Labour leader has received a much-needed boost with the backing of the powerful Unite trade union.

The endorsement of the party’s biggest donor puts the so-called “continuity Corbyn” candidate within a whisker of formally joining Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy on the final ballot paper.

Announcing the decision – after an all-day hustings with all the leadership campaign teams – Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, praised Ms Long-Bailey’s “brains and brilliance”.

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And he rejected suggestions that she bore some of the responsibility for Labour’s general election disaster, having helped write its rejected manifesto – blaming the defeat on Brexit.

In a clean sweep for left-wing candidates, Unite, as expected, threw its weight behind shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon in the deputy’s race.

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