British prime minster David Cameron meets with the Queen following parliament's dissolution, marking the official start of the closest national election in decades. Ciara Lee explores the key themes of the battle, including the prospect of a ''Brexit''.
The countdown to the UK's most hotly contested election in decades has begun. (SOUNDBITE) (English) BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, DAVID CAMERON, SAYING: "You can chose an economy that grows, that creates jobs. A government that will cut taxes for 30 million hard working people. And a country that is safe and secure." Following the dissolution of parliament, the Prime Minister made the traditional trip to inform the Queen. It marks an end to five years of coalition rule - this time round David Cameron is hoping for an outright win. The UK's 2.8 trillion pound economy has bounced back from its deepest downturn since World war Two to become one of the fastest-growing in the industrialised world. But many Britons say they haven't felt the benefit. CIBC's Jeremy Stretch. (SOUNDBITE) HEAD OF FX STRATEGY AT CIBC, JEREMY STRETCH, SAYING: "The real battle of the election race is going to be this message of the Conservatives, it's the economy and that's going the be the driving factor. We will continue to grow it and that will bring forward tax revenues. And of course the opposition Labour party will be saying we guarantee the national health service as it stands. Now whether they can justify that on their base line economic assumptions without increasing borrowing is a mute point." And it's not just what happens at home that's stirring passionate debate. Cameron has promised a referendum on the country's EU membership if he wins. Thta's a big problem says Labour's Ed Miliband, his main opposition. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LABOUR LEADER ED MILIBAND, SAYING: "David Cameron used to campaign to keep Britain in Europe. Now he won't rule out campaigning to leave. He used to say he'd be able to negotiate treaty change in Europe, but now he keeps quiet about that too." There's already evidence the UK's influence in Europe is waning. European partners want Britain to stay - but not at any price. Cameron's lack of clarity about membership is also frustrating some in Brussels. But it's voters that count at this stage. And he's under pressure from both the anti-EU UK Independence Party and eurosceptics within his own party. Current polls put Labour and Conservative almost neck and neck.