The UK is gearing up for a general election on 12 December after Labour finally backed a pre-Christmas vote.
Parliament will be dissolved on Wednesday, marking the start of the official campaign period before the election.
Special rules that cover political spending, donations and media coverage during election and referendum campaign periods will kick in with the dissolution of Parliament.
But even though the starting gun has yet to fire, political parties are already running social media adverts against each other.
The Conservatives have launched a geographically targeted campaign on Facebook, covering 26 constituencies, says the BBC. These are seats where the Tories came a close second in the 2017 election, and those where the party has safe majorities.
Labour has a new campaign promoting an article from The Guardian that claims NHS drugs bills will “soar” if Prime Minister Boris Johnson does a deal with Donald Trump on the back of his Brexit agreement.
The ad includes the caption: “Boris Johnson’s disastrous Brexit would sell off our NHS to Donald Trump. The NHS says that means skyrocketing costs for life-saving medicines.”
The Lib Dems are running nine versions of an attack ad against their political rival Jeremy Corbyn, including one that describes him as a “Brexiteer at heart”.
With the campaign already getting feisty before it has officially begun, this election looks like it will be one of the most fiercely contested in recent memory.
So who is tipped to win?
When will the general election take place?
The date of the general election is set for 12 December 2019.
According to the schedule set out in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, general elections should take place on the first Thursday in May in the fifth year of each Parliament – which would have put the next election on 5 May 2022.
But the Commons voted last week to approve legislation bringing the date of the election forward to December after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he was satisfied that no-deal Brexit was “off the table”.
“This election is a once-in-a-generation chance to transform our country and take on the vested interests holding people back,” he said, pledging Labour would “now launch the most ambitious and radical campaign for real change that our country has ever seen”.
Why does Johnson want an election?
The prime minister was unable to get his Brexit deal through the current Parliament in the time frame he wanted, and hopes that an election might produce a House of Commons more willing to vote it through.
A successful election campaign that would give Johnson the numbers he needs in Parliament to get his deal through would be a huge opportunity for the PM to save face and claw back some dignity after failing to honour his promise to leave the EU by 31 October, come what may.
A comfortable, Brexit-supporting majority in the Commons would allow Johnson to do what his predecessor Theresa May could not and “get Brexit done”.
So who will win the election?
The bookmakers are backing the Conservatives, with odds of 1/6 on the party winning the most seats. Labour is lagging behind on 6/1, while the Liberal Democrats and the Brexit Party are both on 66/1.
The latest polls also give the Tory party a strong lead over Labour. A Mail on Sunday/Deltapoll voting intention survey conducted between 31 October and 2 November put the Conservatives on 40%, followed by Labour on just 28%. The Lib Dems were third with 14%, while the Brexit Party’s vote share was 11%.
So the signs at the moment point to a clear Tory majority, and a pro-Brexit Conservative-led Parliament ready to vote through Johnson’s deal.