Prime minister Theresa May Photo credit: PA
Britain is heading for a hung parliament as the Conservatives lose their majority and Labour enjoys a surge of support, according to a major new poll.
The YouGov analysis puts the Tories on course to win 310 seats - down from the 330 they held when the election was called, and 16 short of an overall majority.
Labour, on the other hand, would see their number of MPs jump from 229 to 257, with the Lib Dems up one to 10, the SNP down four to 50, and the Greens staying on one.
If that result was replicated on 8 June it would be a disaster for Theresa May, who called the snap election in a bid to secure a huge majority ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
The poll is based on 50,000 interviews with voters over the past week. Voting intention data collected over the same period and puts the Tories on 42%, Labour on 38%, the Lib Dems on 9% and Ukip on 4%.
The Times say the nature of the poll “allows for big variations” however, meaning the Tories could be left with as many as 345 seats on a successful night, and as few as 274 seats on a bad one.
YouGov's chief executive, Stephan Shakespeare said the model had been tested during the EU referendum campaign, when it consistently put the winning Leave side ahead.
But he added: "It would take only a slight fall in Labour's share and a slight increase in the Conservatives' to result in Mrs May returning to No 10 with a healthy majority."
Tory and Labour insiders have both expressed scepticism of the study, with one Conservative telling the paper the party they still expected a majority of around 50, despite an “atrocious” campaign.
One Labour source told PoliticsHome: "It doesn't feel right. It has definitely got better out there because of the dementia tax and also school meals getting taken away, but I don't believe that poll."
Another said the shock study is “bollocks - but would be hilarious", while another insisted "it doesn't chime with the reports we're getting from the doorstep."
Meanwhile a senior Scottish Tory source predicted that the SNP will get "nothing like" 50 seats.
The Tories’ humiliating U-turn over social care following last week’s manifesto launch, has seen Labour close the gap in a number of polls in recent days.
The latest of ICM's weekly polls for The Guardian still puts the Tories 12 points ahead of their opponents, although that is well down on the 22-point advantage they enjoyed earlier this month.
Its findings are in keeping with a range of polls over the past four weeks, which have all shown that the election race is tightening as polling day approaches.