Page last updated at 12:58 GMT, Sunday, 13 December 2009

David Cameron and Labour 'ready for a snap election'

Johnson - election 'not done deal'

Conservative leader David Cameron has said he believes 25 March is a "likely date" for the coming general election.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown can hold a general election at any time up to June, but is widely expected to plump for the first Thursday in May 2010.

But a recent fall in the Tory poll lead has led to talk of a "snap" election.

Ed Balls rejected that idea on the BBC but added that Labour was "ready". Mr Cameron told Sky News the Tories were "all systems go" for the election.

Mr Cameron told Sky's Adam Boulton the country needed a new government and "a fresh start" and said the Tories had been "clearing manifestos" ready for the campaign.

He added that he "had always said that 25 March is quite a likely date if the prime minister wants freedom of manoeuvre".

'Inter-galactic'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who is also a Conservative, told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show, that while he was "not going to say the election is a done deal... it is like a novel where the denouement has become obvious a little bit too early".

He said: "I think the Labour government is almost completely discredited. In my view they have bogged it up in the most imperial, inter-galactic fashion. They have run up colossal sums of debt and have no credible way out of it."

Schools Secretary Ed Balls, who has been close to Mr Brown for more than a decade, denied on BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that the pre-Budget report was part of campaigning for a "snap" election.

He said that Labour general secretary Ray Collins had made clear Labour was ready to fight an election whenever the prime minister wanted it.

But he added: "But I have heard nobody talking about going for snap or early elections but whenever it comes we will be ready."

A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times suggests the Conservatives are on 40%, Labour on 31% and the Lib Dems down two to 16%. That 9% lead is down from 13% in the past week the newspaper says.

However a ComRes poll for the Independent suggests the Conservative lead has grown over the past month. It puts David Cameron's party on 41% with Labour on 24% and the Lib Dems up four points at 21%.

Meanwhile a BPIX survey for the Mail on Sunday suggests the Conservatives are on 41%, Labour on 30% and the Lib Dems on 17%. That 11% lead is down from the 14/15% lead in September and October the newspaper says.



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