6 Apr 2010

British PM confirms election date of 6 May

9:57 pm on 6 April 2010

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has set 6 May as the date for a parliamentary election which could bring down the curtain on 13 years of rule by the Labour Party.

Mr Brown met with the Queen at Buckingham Palace on Tuesday to request that she dissolve parliament next week, and signal the start of a month-long election campaign.

On returning from the palace he confirmed the widely-predicted date and called the election "the big choice", the BBC reports.

Conservative leader David Cameron said his party had the "big ideas" for the country while Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said only his party offered "real change".

The economy, taxation and public services are expected to be key battlegrounds. The campaign will also feature live television debates between the three main party leaders.

It will be the first time that Mr Brown, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg have led their respective parties into a general election - none were party leaders at the last one in 2005.

To secure an overall majority, a party must win at least 326 seats. There will be a hung parliament if no party makes sufficient gains, the BBC reports.

After 13 years in power, Labour enters the election with a notional majority of 48 seats, meaning that a loss of 24 seats would see them lose their overall majority.

Whatever the result, the make-up of the House of Commons will change significantly following the election, with 144 MPs so far having announced that they will stand down.

An ICM poll in the Guardian showed Labour only four percentage points behind the Conservatives and on course to remain the largest party, albeit without an overall majority, Reuters reports.

But a separate YouGov poll for The Sun, showed the Conservatives enjoying a 10 point lead. An opinion poll for the Daily Express showed the same.

However, even those last two polls point to a hung parliament.