LONDON: Indian-origin MP Lisa Nandy on Wednesday clinched the requisite support from unions and affiliate bodies to make it to the final round of the race to become the new leader of the UK's Opposition Labour Party.
The 40-year-old MP for Wigan in Greater Manchester is now confirmed as the second name on the ballot paper alongside frontrunner Sir Kier Starmer, ahead of a postal vote set to open on February 21 with the new leader taking charge on April 4.
An endorsement from the Chinese for Labour group meant that Nandy has the required backing of three groups alongside the GMB union and the National Union of Mineworkers.
"As someone of mixed heritage, I'm incredibly proud that it is Chinese for Labour who have secured my place on the ballot paper," Nandy said in a Twitter statement.
"They do incredibly important work to ensure we are a representative and inclusive party that can truly speak for modern Britain," she said.
Nandy, the daughter of India-born academic Dipak Nandy and a British mother, has previously called on the Labour Party to be "brave" and elect her.
Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary, has maintained a strong lead throughout the race, with two other contenders - Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry and Rebecca Long-Bailey, a loyalist of current leader Jeremy Corbyn, yet to clinch the required union backing.
A fourth female candidate, Birmingham MP Jess Phillips, on Tuesday backed out of the race, throwing her vote behind Nandy.
"Only in power can Labour make the radical changes that are so desperately needed for our towns and communities. We believe that Lisa is the right candidate to take us there," said Luton North Labour MP Sarah Owen, who chairs the Chinese for Labour group.
In a major speech earlier on Wednesday, Nandy said she would give people a bigger role in designing an "empowering" welfare system as she laid out her vision for the Labour Party under her leadership.
The current system lacked "human empathy" and was too complicated for people to understand, she said, promising to reverse cuts by ditching planned reductions in national insurance.
"Labour is at a crossroads. To win again we will have to up our game, recover our ambition, and inspire a movement, she said.
Nandy has also been outspoken on the treatment of Meghan Markle by sections of the UK media since she married Prince Harry and became Duchess of Sussex.
"I think Britain is a much more decent country than some sections of the media would have us believe. The way Meghan Markle was treated, I didn't like it at all," she told ITV News on Wednesday morning, in reaction to the couple's recent step back as senior royals.
She clashed with 'Good Morning Britain' host Piers Morgan over his denial of any harsh treatment meted out to Markle.
"If you don't mind me saying, how on earth would you know? As someone who's never had to deal with ingrained prejudice, you're not in a position to understand people who have. And I think there were a lot of people who signed that letter who have," she said, in reference to a cross-party letter of solidarity she had signed alongside other female MPs last year in support of the actress turned royal bride, which had condemned the "colonial undertones" in the coverage of stories related to the Duchess of Sussex.
Nandy has served as a former Shadow Energy Secretary in Corbyn's top team before stepping down after the Brexit referendum in 2016 in protest at the party's unclear stance on the UK's EU membership.
She now faces a postal ballot of party members to vote for a leader to replace Corbyn from a final shortlist will run from February 21 to April 2.
The deadline for new members to join the party in order to vote in the postal ballot has now expired.