Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Jess Phillips have all won enough support from MPs to pass the first hurdle of the Labour leadership contest, the party has confirmed.

The three women are all assured of a place on the ballot paper next week after securing the minimum 22 endorsements, joining front-runner Keir Starmer who has increased his lead to 63 backers from 41 on Wednesday.

Ms Long Bailey, the shadow business secretary who is seen as the heir apparent to Jeremy Corbyn, takes second place with 26 supporters, while Ms Nandy is in third on 24 supporters and Ms Phillips is fourth on 22 endorsements.

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Shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry is lagging behind with only nine supporters, while outsider Clive Lewis has picked up four backers.

Candidates to succeed Mr Corbyn in the top job must win the backing of 10 per cent of MPs and MEPs by Monday to progress to the next stage of the contest.

Barry Gardiner, the shadow trade secretary, is still mulling whether to mount an eleventh hour tilt for the leadership, after shocking the party with news of a potential bid while he attended a conference in Abu Dhabi.

Ms Nandy, the MP for Wigan, appears to have boosted her campaign with a well-received address to the parliamentary Labour party on Tuesday.

She said: "I am so proud to have been nominated by a group of MPs representing different parts of the country and different traditions in our movement, which gives us the best possible mandate to go out and make our case to members that the Labour Party can pull together to give our country the radical, dynamic, compassionate Labour government the country deserves."

Ms Phillips, the outspoken MP for Birmingham Yardley, also thanked her backers and revealed her crowdfunding campaign to raise £100,000 had passed its halfway mark.

Corbyn ally Ms Long Bailey has been touted as the candidate to continue the Labour leader's project but she was the last candidate to formally declare her intention to stand.

It comes after Sir Keir secured an early lead in the contest by winning the backing of Unison, the UK's largest trade union, which represents some 1.4m public sector workers.

Each candidate must win the support of 5 per cent of constituency parties and affiliated groups, including trade unions, to pass the second stage.

In the deputy leader contest, shadow education secretary Angela Rayner has soared into the lead on 71 nominations, while Ian Murray, Labour's only Scottish MP, has also passed the first hurdle round with 29 backers.

Shadow justice secretary Richard Burgon has 18 supporters, shadow sports minister Rosena Allin-Khan is on 16, shadow equalities secretary Dawn Butler has 14.

Birmingham Perry Bar MP Khalid Mahmood pulled out of the race after only winning two nominations.

The new leader and deputy leader of the Labour party will be announced on April 4.

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