Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 10:31 GMT 11:31 UK Blair sets 5 May as election date Tony Blair is ending months of speculation about the poll date The general election will be held on 5 May, Tony Blair has formally announced. Speaking after asking the Queen to dissolve Parliament next week, Mr Blair said Labour had a "driving mission" for a third term in office. The Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders pre-empted the announcement by starting nationwide tours of key seats. Michael Howard accused Mr Blair's government of "losing the plot" while Charles Kennedy said he would focus on people's hopes, not their fears. The government must now rush to get its remaining legislation through Parliament. Some key bills are likely to fall. LIKELY TIMETABLE Tuesday: Prime minister asks Queen to dissolve Parliament and prepares to announce a 5 May poll Wednesday: Last prime minister's questions Thursday: Possible last day when Parliament sits Saturday: Campaigning suspended for royal wedding Monday: Parliament formally dissolved Likely campaign timetable Howard pledges 'action' Lib Dems welcome defector Earlier, a Labour candidate said he was defecting to the Liberal Democrats. Ribble Valley candidate Stephen Wilkinson said he was disillusioned with Tony Blair's "increasingly authoritarian" party. Four opinion polls published on Tuesday suggest Labour's lead over the Tories has slipped to between 2% and 5%. They suggest the Lib Dems trail the Tories by between 10 and 16 points. But one of the polls also suggests the Tories are 5% ahead of Labour among those "certain to vote".