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Last Updated: Saturday, 4 August 2007, 02:32 GMT 03:32 UK
Tories talk of election readiness
Conservative leader David Cameron and Shadow Health spokeswoman Ann Milton meets Marion Cox and her twins  at Horton Hospital in Banbury
David Cameron was interviewed on a visit to Horton General Hospital
David Cameron has said he would be ready to fight a general election if the prime minister called a snap poll.

"We've got the candidates, we've very effectively raised money, cleared a lot of our debts," the Tory leader said.

He also told Channel Four News the Tories' general election manifesto was "under preparation at the moment".

A leaked memo on Thursday showed Gordon Brown was advised to hold an early election after a "significant honeymoon" as prime minister.

Labour pollster Philip Gould's advice, leaked to the Daily Mirror, included that Mr Brown should go for an early election after "a short period of intense and compelling activity".

Speculation over an early election has also been growing after a series of opinion polls suggested Labour has kept a steady lead over the Conservatives since Mr Brown became prime minister.

'Bare-knuckle fight'

Mr Cameron's comments came as he vowed to fight plans to downgrade district general hospitals in the NHS.

Mr Cameron, who was visiting the threatened Horton General Hospital in Banbury, Oxfordshire, said: "There are 40 maternity units currently under threat and 90 accident and emergency units under threat.

"The government does not believe in district general hospitals. I promise the government that there will be an absolute bare-knuckle fight on this."

Mr Cameron told Channel 4 News of his election preparations, saying the final three reports from his policy review groups - on the economy, public service reform and the quality of life- are ready for publication.

Three other reports, on global poverty, social justice and security, have already been published.

The prime minister can call an election at any time up to May 2010.

Recent practice has seen an election every four years, which is why May 2009 is still seen as the most likely date.

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