A senior Conservative MP has fuelled expectation that Boris Johnson is planning for an autumn general election with an email reading “GE 2019”.

Damian Hinds – the education secretary until last month – accidentally let slip the existence of a “GE team” in the message posted on his Instagram account.

Apparently sent by an aide, the snapshot of the email has a subject line reading: “Re (2): GE 2019 GE team thoughts”.

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“Hi all I hope this isn’t unhelpful at this point (!) but I had had in mind that....” it states, in the only words that can be read.

It was revealed, and later deleted, amid a growing anticipation that the new prime minister will go the country later this year, as the Brexit crisis deepens.

The post on Damian Hinds' Instagram account (Instagram)

No 10 has been put on an election footing, with aides’ holidays cancelled and a stream of voter-friendly announcements, including higher spending for the police and the NHS and crime crackdowns.

Last week, Mr Johnson chose an election-style Facebook address to the nation from his Downing Street office to unveil a plan to ease immigration rules for scientists post-Brexit.

Although he has insisted there will be no election before a “do or die” Brexit on 31 October, he could be forced into one by MPs determined to block a crash-out departure.

Mr Johnson’s chief aide, Dominic Cummings, has threatened a general election – but delayed until after the UK has left the EU – even if he is defeated in a no-confidence vote.

Even if he survives the immediate Brexit drama, the prime minister has a Commons majority of just one and needs a more stable basis for any extensive domestic reforms.

Mr Hinds is an ally of Mr Johnson, having been sacked when the new prime minister took over, and is unlikely to have any insight into his detailed planning.

He told ITV News that the email on his Instagram was “a little techno snafu" and insisted there was “nothing to see here”.

Nevertheless, MPs of all parties are working to the expectation of an election either at the end of this year, or early in 2020 – either in or out of the EU.

Immediately after replacing Theresa May, asked if he could guarantee an election would not take place before the end of October, Mr Johnson replied “absolutely”.

“The British people voted in 2015, in 2016, in 2017," the PM said during a visit to Birmingham.

“What they want us to do is deliver on their mandate, come out of the EU on 31 October.”

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