General election set for 6 May

Westminster on the map

Gordon Brown has today set the general election for 6 May, firing the starting gun on a four-week campaign to overturn the Conservative lead in the polls.

After a final cabinet meeting, the prime minister travelled to Buckingham Palace to ask the Queen to dissolve parliament on 12 April.

The contest for the 650 seats is likely to be the toughest since 1992, when John Major’s Conservatives defeated Neil Kinnock’s Labour party, and a hung parliament is a real possibility.

A YouGov poll for the Sun last night put support for the Tories above 40% for the first time since 7 January. It put the Tories at 41%, Labour at 31% and the Liberal Democrats at 18%.

However, an ICM poll for today’s Guardian puts the Tories just four points ahead.

Brown starts his campaign by warning voters they have worked too hard to let Tory policies set the country “back on the road to recession”.

Cameron is expected to champion “the great ignored”, saying: “They’re the people of Britain and they just want a reason to believe that anything is still possible in our country.”