First Minister Mark Drakeford has told Labour in Wales to gear up for a snap UK election as they believe the Tory Government is on the brink of being overwhelmed.
The Welsh Labour leader has put his party on an election footing as he thinks Rishi Sunak's administration is "staggering on" and could be forced to call an early poll.
The next election is due to be held before January 2025, with expectation in Westminster that it will be called next year.
But the Government can call a snap election at any time. The last two UK elections were held early - in 2017 when Theresa May threw away her Commons majority, and in 2019 when Boris Johnson won a Tory landslide.
Mr Drakeford insisted the UK needs a "fresh start" after the unmitigated chaos of 2022, which saw the Tories oust both Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, with the latter trashing the economy with her mini-Budget.
“We do not need 18 months of an exhausted Government that has lost credibility and cannot command even the support of its own MPs, staggering on,” Mr Drakeford told The Guardian.
Asked if he was preparing for a UK election, Mr Drakeford said: “Absolutely. A general election could come at any time.”
He argued that Rishi Sunak was vulnerable to rebellions from his own MPs after he was forced into U-turns over two “relatively modest” domestic policies - compulsory housebuilding targets and the ban on onshore wind.
"A bigger issue could come at any moment and completely overwhelm the Government," Mr Drakeford said.
"We are pressing ahead, making sure we have candidates in the field. We are working on the policies we would promote in a general election and looking forward to Wales making the maximum contribution we can to having a Labour UK government."
He said the the UK was at a “low ebb” after a decade of austerity - and said it was no surprise workers are taking strike action.
“Here we are 12 years later with people not only finding their wages held down, but the ravages of inflation mean that people are having to manage on a lot less money than they’ve had for a very long time," he said.
"Taxes are at a 70-year high and the United Kingdom’s reputation around the world is damaged by the political events of the last 12 months.”
Mr Sunak faces an uphill battle to restore calm after months of chaos and has a limited window to convince voters not to oust his party.
The Mirror previously revealed that Keir Starmer prepared an emergency blueprint for Government during the months of chaos in the Tory party.
A manifesto was drawn up over the summer in case the Government collapsed.
A senior Labour source told The Mirror: “We always wanted to make sure we were ready for an election.
“Given the chaos in the Tory party there were moments in 2022 when it looked like they could collapse at any time.
“We knew we had to be ready and part of that was having a manifesto in the drawer ready to go if there was an election that was called."