Brown ‘could call March election’

By Emmeline Saunders

Gordon Brown may call the general election earlier than thought.

A snap election could be set for March 25th 2010, seven weeks earlier than the provisional date of May 3rd.

Speculation in Westminster grew after civil servants noticed government planning after the end of January is remarkably light, fuelling rumours that No 10 is planning a surprise poll.

According to the Telegraph, this leaves the Conservatives in a strong position because the opposition has had time to build up a “fighting fund” of more than £30 million since the aborted election in autumn 2007.

David Cameron is said to be better prepared to plan and fight an election than he was two years ago.

Speaking to the Telegraph, a Conservative source said: “March is in our minds. Gordon Brown knows he still has a small window to cause some element of surprise.

“We are ready if it happens.”

Prime ministers traditionally shy away from setting elections before the clocks go forward, as it is harder to get activists to campaign during the dark evenings. The March 25th date would also take out the Easter holiday period.

If Mr Brown was hoping Labour’s prospects would improve with strong economic recovery, the news that Britain is still in recession could affect election date plans.

The last day the prime minister can call an election is June 3rd.