LONDON, July 17 (Reuters) - Boris Johnson's team wants to hold a national election in the summer of 2020 and has started raising funds to hire more staff and prepare the Conservative Party for the contest, the Times newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The former mayor of London is the clear frontrunner to replace Theresa May and become British prime minister when the result of the leadership contest with Jeremy Hunt is announced next Tuesday.
Johnson has said it would be "absolute folly" to hold an election before he has taken the country out of the European Union and the Times said his team was planning to pump more money into the party's headquarters to put it on to an "election footing" for 2020.
Britain is due to leave the bloc on Oct. 31.
"There's a desire to get this done while (opposition leader Jeremy) Corbyn is still around," the newspaper quoted one senior member of the team as saying. "Labour is utterly divided — Brexit is killing them. Labour is in no fit state to fight a general election."
Britain's next election is due in 2022 and both contenders for the leadership have said publicly they do not plan to hold a national vote before then.
(Reporting by Kate Holton; editing by Jason Neely)
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