Education Secretary Gillian Keegan jokes about needing new job next week

Education Secretary Gillian Keegan has joked about needing a new job next week as she faces being one of the Tories' most high-profile election casualties.

The cabinet minister is projected to lose her Chichester seat in West Sussex to the Lib Dems, who are aiming to smash the so-called "blue wall" in southern England.

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During a visit to a school in her constituency, Ms Keegan was asked by pupils what job she would do if she was not an MP.

"I might have to answer that question next Friday", she said.

Ms Keegan later told the PA news agency that the polls were "all over the place" and "I have never taken anything in my whole life for granted".

But her initial answer reflects the defeatist mood of some Tories as multiple polls suggest Britain's political landscape is about to be fundamentally re-drawn, with Labour on course for a historic majority.

Ms Keegan is one of more than a dozen senior figures at risk of having a so-called "Portillo moment" - a reference to Michael Portillo, the Conservative minister who was famously unseated as Tony Blair swept to power in 1997.

It is relatively rare for cabinet ministers to lose their seats at elections but as well as Ms Keegan, polls predict Chancellor Jeremy Hunt, Defence Secretary Grant Shapps and Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt could all be heading for the electoral chopping board, alongside many more high-profile colleagues.

Ms Keegan was elected in 2017 and has a healthy majority of 21,000.

Chichester has always been considered a Conservative stronghold, but the latest YouGov MRP poll says the Lib Dems are likely to take this seat on 4 July.

The education secretary is known to not mince her words and has faced criticism for a sweary rant about the RAAC crisis and joking that she would have "punched" an Ofsted inspector.

Earlier on Friday she gave a frank summation of the Tories' chances at the election, telling Sky News that the polls are not "looking like the best outcome for our party" and lots of people are "frustrated" with the Conservatives for "very many reasons".

It echoes a similar sentiment from other Tories who appear to have all but accepted defeat.

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Northern Ireland minister Steve Baker will launch a bid to replace Rishi Sunak, it is understood, assuming the prime minister resigns if the party loses.

However, he admitted he is "widely expected" to be unseated in Wycombe, where he has a slim 4,214 majority.

Other Tories have taken to warning voters about the dangers of a Labour "supermajority" and saying an effective opposition will be needed.

Meanwhile, Mr Shapps said early on in the campaign that to claim the Conservatives are on course for a victory would be to "try and pretend black is white".

Mr Sunak, however, has sought to remain optimistic and insisted the Tories can still win.