LABOUR leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn has welcomed the backing of the Unite union as evidence the left-winger’s campaign is “serious”.
Unite, Labour’s biggest donor, said it was backing Mr Corbyn because his policies are most closely aligned with the union.
The union did not make a formal nomination for the deputy leadership, but it will recommend members support Tom Watson and Angela Eagle in a blow for the ambitions of Don Valley MP Caroline Flint.
Unite, which gives Labour around £1.5 million a year, is the first of the big three unions to decide which of the four Labour leadership candidates to back, with Unison and the GMB some weeks away from making a recommendation.
Mr Corbyn said: “It is a great honour to receive Unite’s nomination, and it underlines that this a serious campaign that has growing momentum.
“The leadership election is about one issue above others: whether we accept another five years of a race to the bottom based on cuts that destroy services and damage living standards, or whether we invest our way to a growth and fairness.”
Mr Corbyn only made it onto the ballot for the Labour leadership after a rush of support in the final minutes before nominations closed.
Labour figures had called for Mr Corbyn to be nominated to ensure that the range of opinion within the party was heard in the leadership contest.
But critics argued his nomination would drag the tone of the debate to the left and showed the party was not serious about choosing a leader who could take the party into power in five years time.
Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham, who received the most nominations from Labour MPs, was Unite’s second choice behind Mr Corbyn.
The results of the leadership and deputy elections will be announced on September 12.