Losing a forthcoming by-election seat could be “curtains” for Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.
It could also mark the return of former minister Andy Burnham to lead the party.
Dianne Abbott – a close ally of former leader Jeremy Corbyn – said the looming Batley and Spen by-election could be a watershed moment for Labour.
She warned that Labour must hold on the seat vacated after MP Tracy Brabin was elected West Yorkshire Metro Mayor.
Ms Abbott said: “This West Yorkshire constituency has different demographics from Hartlepool [recently lost by Labour].
“Support from the large minority ethnic electorate may enable the party to hold the seat and Starmer to hang on as Labour leader.
“But if Labour loses again, it must surely be curtains for him.
“And then, it may be that Andy Burnham’s time will have come.”
Ms Abbott suggested the party’s left could support Mr Burnham if he ran for the leadership.
Mr Burnham is the Greater Manchester Metro Mayor.
Under party rules to stand for the Labour leadership he would have to be an MP.
Batley and Spen has been held by Labour since 2007.
Ms Brabin kept the Brexit supporting seat in 2019 with a majority of 3,525.
The Brexit Party took 1,678 votes.
No date has been set for the by-election, but late July is thought to be likely.