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Ed Miliband wins backing of Unite

The support of the UK’s largest union will give a major boost to his campaign.

The Labour leadership contest intensified even further this weekend as it was revealed that the shadow energy secretary, Ed Miliband, had won the support of the UK's biggest trade union, Unite.

Yesterday, the union's national policy committee voted in favour of Ed Miliband, giving him 24 nominations. It will now recommend that when the national executive meets on Monday it vote publicly to back the Doncaster North MP's candidacy for the party leadership.

Miliband -- younger brother to the favourite, David -- already has support from Unison and the GMB. With Unite's decision, he now has the three largest trade unions behind him.

Meanwhile, David Miliband has won the support of two unions -- Community and Usdaw -- and the shadow education secretary, Ed Balls, is being backed by the Communication Workers Union. Diane Abbott has the backing of the Transport Salaried Staff Association and Aslef, the train drivers' union.

No union has come out in support of the fifth candidate, Andy Burnham.

Unite's backing of Ed Miliband is a particular blow to Ed Balls, who is now rumoured to be considering pulling out of the race.

Read exclusive interviews with all five candidates in this week's New Statesman.