Angela Eagle could become the first LGBT leader of the Labour party following a planned summer coup against Jeremy Corbyn.
Labour’s Shadow First Secretary of State has enjoyed strong performances in the House of Commons, boosting the morale of Labour MPs.
Ms Eagle also performed well when she became the first LGBT MP to front Prime Minister’s Questions for her party.
She stood in for Corbyn in December, going up against Chancellor George Osborne as the Prime Minister was on a ministerial visit to Poland.
The new Labour leader named her Shadow Business Secretary following his rise to the Labour leadership earlier this year.
However, frontbenchers and donors have said that they see Ms Eagle as a viable replacement for Mr Corbyn, claiming she could unite the party in the event of a summer shake up.
Plotters within the party say there is now a “race against time” to hold a leadership election before Labour’s autumn conference.
Mr Corbyn’s allies are expected to change party rules during the annual gathering, to ensure that he will be guaranteed a place in any leadership contest.
Other rule changes could see that the backing of far fewer MPs would be needed to secure a place on the leadership ballot paper, making it easier for another hard-left candidate to run.
“The first move would be to have a unity, caretaker leader to take us into the next election and get back to normality,” a senior Labour MP told The Times.
“That could be someone like Angela [Eagle], who has done well in the chamber.”
However, it is believed that many Labour moderates remain divided over when to take action against their current leader, for fear of angering his many supporters in the party’s membership, which has risen dramatically since he was elected.
Ms Eagle previously made history as Labour’s first openly lesbian MP, when she came out in 1997.
The Member of Parliament for Wallasey was also handed the title of Shadow First Secretary of State, surpassing Chris Bryant to become the party’s most powerful out politician – allegedly to address criticism of the lack of women in senior roles.