Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced that the General Election will be held on May 6, and declared he would fight on the values instilled in him by his parents.
Mr Brown named the day in Downing Street after returning from Buckingham Palace, where he formally asked the Queen to grant a dissolution of Parliament.
Flanked by ranks of Cabinet ministers, he said the election date had been "probably the worst-kept secret of recent years".
He went on: "The Queen has kindly agreed to the dissolution of Parliament and a General Election will take place on May 6."
Mr Brown added: "I know where I come from and I will never forget the values... instilled in me by my parents."
Mr Brown said he was seeking a "clear and straightforward mandate" from the country to carry on the work of economic recovery.