Downing Street has seen polling which suggests Boris Johnson would not win an election outright, according to a senior Tory adviser who lost his job at the weekend.
Polling and modeling discussed by senior Number 10 figures suggests the Tories would win about 295 to 300 seats in an election.
After Boris Johnson removed the whip from 21 Tory MPs who rebelled last week, and after Amber Rudd resigned as well, the Tories now have 288 MPs who formally take the whip.
Jason Stein, Amber Rudd’s former special adviser, said that the polling – carried out in the last two weeks – suggests “we are looking at picking up roughly 295 to 300 seats”.
“It is just the simple fact that we’re going to lose seats in London, in the South West, in Scotland… They need to be replaced, they’re already 10 behind, we to win 35 seats in areas we’ve never won before just to break even.”
Mr Stein said that, despite the polling, Number 10 is not panicking.
“I don’t think they are starting to panic or getting nervous,” he said.
Mr Stein added that despite “all the headwinds hitting them”, Downing Street is being sustained by a “clarity of purpose”.
Mr Johnson is pushing for an election after MPs took control of the Commons agenda and passed a law mandating him to ask the EU for a Brexit delay.
MPs will vote on a motion calling for a snap election later, but it is not expected to get the two-thirds majority required to pass.
This is because opposition parties want the current Brexit deadline of 31 October to be extended, to avoid the prospect of a no-deal exit then.