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George Osborne is to announce a campaign against Gordon Brown in case there is an election in the autumn:

"With Westminster gripped by speculation that the Prime Minister is considering a snap election to take advantage of a "bounce" in the opinion polls, the Conservatives are planning to go on the attack. George Osborne, the shadow chancellor and Tory election co-ordinator, said last night the party intended to show Mr Brown that they were ready for an early election. "We intend to take the fight to Labour and show that we have the money to campaign hard. We are going to keep the summer heat on Brown," he said. Tory strategists hope their campaign will check Mr Brown’s rise in the polls and dampen Labour’s enthusiasm for an early election by showing that a well-financed Conservative Party can mount a hard-hitting campaign."

An election in the autumn is seen as increasingly likely in Westminster. At least one Conservative MP has cancelled their September holiday because of the prospect of an election in that month and a few Shadow Cabinet members are privately convinced of it.

Conventional wisdom is that an early election favours the incumbent as MPs, unlike their opposing candidates, already have a profile in the constituency. The Party’s "war book" is already thick however, and it is clearly up to the challenge should Brown take the risk.

Deputy Editor

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