LISA Nandy has taken a huge step towards getting on the final ballot for the Labour leadership after the GMB union endorsed her candidacy.

The development came as:

*Birmingham MP Jess Phillips pulled out of the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn, saying the party needed a candidate who could unify all parts of the party but admitted: “I have to be honest, at this time, that person isn't me,” and

*Rebecca Long-Bailey, the Shadow Business Secretary, endorsed so-called “open parliamentary selections,” which would make it easier to deselect sitting MPs as election candidates.

Ms Nandy, the MP for Wigan, already had the support of the National Union of Mineworkers; the backing of the GMB puts her in touching distance of getting her name on the final ballot.

Candidates need the nominations of three Labour affiliates, including at least two unions, which amount to at least five per cent of affiliate members. The only other route on to the final ballot is by receiving nominations from at least 33 Constituency Labour Parties.

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," added the former Shadow Energy Secretary.

Tim Roache, the GMB’s General Secretary, described Ms Nandy as a “breath of fresh air in the debate over Labour's future”.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, is currently the frontrunner, having already secured his place on the final ballot paper as a result of nominations from the unions Unison and Usdaw as well as affiliate group, the Socialist Environment and Resources Association.

In a campaign speech in London, Ms Long-Bailey, who is expected later this week to get the endorsement of Unite, Labour’s biggest donor, pledged to democratise the party and insisted Labour needed to "rip up" its "outdated rule book that has held back our members for too long and throw open the door to a new generation of MPs and candidates".

The Salford MP insisted it was now “time to break out of the bunker and become the open, democratic party we’ve always aspired to be,” saying if she won, she would seek “new ways to empower our members, trade unions, MPs, leaders and councillors” and introduce “open and democratic policy-making at every level”.

Meanwhile, the GMB also nominated Angela Rayner, the Shadow Education Secretary, for the deputy leader’s role. The Manchester MP has already secured the support of Unison.

Her rival for the deputy’s job, Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP, has yet to secure the backing of a large union and might have to rely on garnering the support of local parties to get his name on the final ballot.