REBECCA Long-Bailey's campaign to lead the Labour Party has been given a major boost after, as expected, she won the backing of the major trade union Unite, Labour’s largest donor.

Len McCluskey, the union’s General Secretary, announced that it would endorse the Shadow Business Secretary as well as Richard Burgon for the deputy leadership role.

Ms Long-Bailey, a frontrunner in the race to replace Jeremy Corbyn, now needs the backing of one more Labour affiliate to secure a place on the ballot paper alongside Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy. Emily Thornberry, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, is hoping to join them.

The Salford MP has already been endorsed by the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers' Union.

Mr McCluskey said the 40-year-old politician had the "brains and the brilliance" to beat Boris Johnson and was the "candidate best-placed to take the fight to the Tory Party on behalf of Unite members and their communities".

He explained: "She is standing for unity, socialism and the determination to make Johnson's term in office short-lived.

"Unite is also confident that Richard will make a superb deputy to Becky, displaying the qualities that have long been absent from that post; pride in our values, a passion for our party to succeed and, above all, loyalty to their leader."

Responding to the union’s endorsement, Ms Long-Bailey said she was honoured to get the backing of Unite, her trade union.

"As a living link to organised working-class communities, trade unions are the lifeblood of the Labour movement. They will be at the heart of our path back to power," she declared.

Candidates are required to have won the nomination of three Labour affiliates, including at least two unions, which amount to at least five per cent of affiliate members or secure nominations from at least five per cent of constituency Labour parties ie 33.

Ian Murray, the party’s only Scottish MP, who is vying for the deputy leader’s role, has yet to secure support from a major union. He has until February 14 to get enough backing to get his name on the final ballot paper.

Earlier on Friday, Labour announced it had cancelled its leadership hustings in Leeds for Saturday after Sir Keir pulled out because his mother-in-law is critically ill in hospital.

The London MP explained on Thursday that he was suspending campaigning after she was involved in a serious accident.

Jennie Formby, the party’s General Secretary, said that to ensure fairness to all the candidates, the party's procedures committee had agreed Saturday's hustings should not now go ahead.

However, the deputy leadership hustings would take place as planned.

The only Scottish hustings, in Glasgow, will take place on Saturday February 15. The results will be announced at a special conference in London on April 4.