Andy Burnham has hinted at running for Labour leader after his landslide reelection as Manchester mayor.
The Labour politician won 69% of the vote for Manchester mayor this week despite the party suffering heavy election losses elsewhere.
Burnham won more than 473,000 votes - twice as many as his Tory opponent Laura Evans.
But after his victory, Burnham hinted that he would run for Labour leader in Westminster again.
The mayor, who has lost the party’s leadership race twice before in 2010 and 2015, told Sky News: “In the distant future, if the party were ever to feel it needed me, well I’m here and they should get in touch.”
But he also said he is currently focussed on Greater Manchester rather than returning to Westminster as an MP to stand as head of the Labour party.
Burnham initially sparked speculation that he may consider putting his hat in the ring for Labour again during his victory speech on Saturday.
Addressing the party’s disappointing performance in the elections so far, he said “they” need to change rather than “we”.
Burnham also said the party needs to do some “soul searching” to understand why it has “lost an emotional connection with parts of the country”.
It comes as his reelection in Manchester is one of the few Labour successes of this year’s local elections.
The Conservatives took former Labour stronghold Hartlepool in a by-election - a parliamentary seat that Labour has held since it was created in 1974.
Meanwhile, social media users were quick to comment on the prospect of Burnham running for Labour leader again.
While some pointed out his past failings in the leadership race, others said they see him as the person who can “lead the party forward”.
Labour Councillor Ali Milani said: “Andy Burnham has shown many in the Labour Party how it’s done. Politics with a why.
“With beliefs, with passion, with authenticity. Congratulations @AndyBurnhamGM.”
Writer and political commentator Mike Williams tweeted: “Congratulations to Andy Burnham, the one person that, for me, truly represents Labour values and the people. The one MP who could lead the party forward.”
Emmerdale star Dominic Brunt also expressed his support for Burnham running for Labour leader, tweeting: “I reckon (if he wants it) Andy Burnham will become Labour Party leader (thank god) within the next six years and PM soon after. Unless serfdom persists at it’s alarming rate."
It comes as Labour leader Keir Starmer faces heavy criticism for failing to rebuild trust in the party after the landslide defeat in the 2019 election.
After seeing another pillar in its once impregnable “red wall” fall to the Tories in Hartlepool, the Labour leader told his party to “stop quarrelling among ourselves” and address the needs of the country.
The bruising result – described as “absolutely shattering” by one shadow cabinet minister – prompted calls from across the party for a change of direction.