Britain is heading for a hung Parliament after boundary changes which have handed the edge at the next general election to the Tories.
The odds are stacked against Gordon Brown holding on to power after he takes over from Tony Blair, according to an academic study of the changes.
The new boundaries could cost Labour seven seats and give the Tories 12 net gains even before a vote has been cast, according to a report by Colin Rallings and Michael Thrasher of the LGC elections centre at the University of Plymouth.
The changes, which have no net affect on the Liberal Democrats, would cut Labour's majority to 24 seats. A swing of only 1.6 per cent from Labour to the Conservatives would then wipe out Labour's parliamentary majority.
However, the analysis is not all good news for David Cameron. To get a majority, the Tory leader would need a swing of 6.9 per cent - more than either Ted Heath or Margaret Thatcher won.
The changes mean the Tories would become the largest party on a 4.3 per cent swing, 0.4 per cent less than needed under the old boundaries. But that would not be enough for the Tories to rule by themselves, and the Lib Dem leader, Sir Menzies Campbell, could be left holding the balance between Mr Brown and Mr Cameron.
The pivotal seats on election night could be: Milton Keynes South, marking the point where Labour loses its majority; Hammersmith where the Tories would become the largest party; and Kingswood, Bristol, which would signal an overall Tory win.Reuse content