Rebecca Long-Bailey has scored a significant boost in her quest to become Labour leader after securing the backing of the Momentum campaign group.
The shadow business secretary – a frontrunner in the race to succeed Jeremy Corbyn – won the overwhelming endorsement of its members in the result of the ballot announced on Thursday.
Shadow education secretary Angela Rayner was also endorsed as deputy leader following the confirmatory ballot of Momentum members.
Momentum now plans to run “hundreds” of phone banks across the country and encourage supporters to use apps to make “hundreds of thousands of calls” to members in support of Ms Long-Bailey.
The campaign group said 70.42 per cent of respondents voted in the ballot to approve Ms Long-Bailey, while 52.15 per cent were in favour of supporting Ms Rayner.
There had been some controversy around the vote, however, with the pair being the only candidates in the yes-no question of whether Momentum should endorse them.
Each needed to win 50 per cent of the vote, so Ms Rayner only narrowly won the support in the ballot responded to by 7,395 members.
Favourite for leadership
The latest poll in the race put Ms Long-Bailey as winning the five-candidate battle to become leader, edging shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer into second place.
The hopefuls are now in the second stage as they seek to make it to the postal ballot of members and supporters.
They must get the support of 5 per cent of local parties or at least three affiliates, including two unions, representing a 5 per cent share of affiliated members by February 14.
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association plans to ballot members over whether to support Sir Keir or Ms Long-Bailey.
General secretary Manuel Cortes said both candidates “will make a great leader”.