SENIOR Tories have secretly drawn up plans for a General Election on October 17 — the day EU leaders are due to gather in Brussels for a critical summit.

They believe a win for Boris Johnson at the polls would allow him to arrive on the second day of the event in the Belgium capital with a new mandate to strengthen his case for a new Brexit deal – just 14 days from when the UK is due to leave the EU.

The next General Election is not due until 2022, but MPs across parties suspect a poll this autumn is increasingly likely to resolve the Brexit impasse.

One Tory insider familiar with the plan told the Sunday Times: “The idea is that if Boris can win a majority, he can turn up in Brussels a day later and say he has a mandate and the votes to pass a reworked deal.”

And speculation of an October election increased further when the Prime Minister’s senior aide Dominic Cummings told a meeting of Tory ministerial advisers on Friday evening: “After this meeting I’m going to go and meet billionaire hedge fund managers and get a giant pot of cash from them,” which they interpreted as evidence that he is lining up an election war chest ready for a showdown over Brexit.

But the General Election scenario is high risk for the Tories and deliberately involves the gamble of the PM losing a no-confidence vote and then going on to win at the polls in an election many members of the public won’t want.

One study earlier this month suggested a snap general election would be particularly bad for the Scottish Tories who would lose all the Westminster seats, while the SNP would benefit from a huge surge in support.

The projections from the Survation poll by Flavible suggested the SNP would secure a total of 53 seats, the Lib Dems five and Labour one.

Tory insiders have calculated that for there to be enough time for there to be a General Election on October 17, the no-confidence vote would have to be held by September 12.

However, the chances of an early vote of confidence receded last week when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, gave the Prime Minister 30 days to devise a new solution to prevent a hard border in Ireland.

That has deterred some Conservatives from moving against Johnson while there is still the prospect of a deal and could also put off Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn from calling one.

Sir Lynton Crosby, Johnson’s polling expert, has told friends the balance of probability leans towards an election in mid to late October.

One of Crosby’s former aides, Isaac Levido, has been installed as the boss at Conservative campaign headquarters (CCHQ) and is recruiting staff for the election war room.

Under the terms of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, Johnson needs the support of two-thirds of MPs to call an election.

But his aides have been advised that they could pass a one-line bill with a simple majority that would say: “Notwithstanding the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, we will hold a general election on X date.”

However, other Number 10 advisers are said to prefer the alternative of an immediate post-Brexit General Election on Friday, 1 November – despite the convention of holding General Elections on Thursdays.

Backers of Johnson say his arrival in Number 10 has given the Tories a real chance of beating Labour. However, other Tories are worried that unless the UK does leave the EU, Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party may destroy any chances of Johnson achieving a majority.

Meanwhile, a UK wide YouGov poll of voting intentions, published yesterday, put the Tories on 33%, Labour on 21%, the Lib Dems on 19% and the Brexit Party on 14%.

There has also been discussion of an General Election on October 10.

Such a date would mean Johnson would have to table a motion for an early poll on September 4 when Westminster returns, allowing him to dissolve parliament the following day and prevent the SNP and Labour from pushing through legislation to make the Government seek a further Brexit extension at the October EU summit.