With the final hours upon us, Labour insiders remain cautious - but can't help feeling the party's time has come

Finally, after six long weeks, the final 24 hours of campaigning is upon us. Rishi Sunak and Sir Keir Starmer will be dashing around the country as they make their final pitch to voters.

The prime minister, who may well be out of that job in less than 48 hours, will be sticking to Tory territory in Hampshire and the South East.

The man who is looking almost certain to replace him - Sir Keir - will be touring the three nations of the UK where he is fielding candidates, as he begins the journey to Number 10 via Wales, Scotland and England.

In the Labour camp, they are still intent on turning out the vote and assuming nothing.

One insider suggests to me there are still, as polling day arrives, 60-70 seats which are a "toss up and could go either way". But there is a quiet admission too that, after four election defeats on the bounce, Labour's time has finally come.

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But this likely victory - if/when it happens on the night - will require a double take, even if there has been a lack of jeopardy for Labour in this election campaign as the Conservatives failed to shift the polls.

That's because the scale of the achievement is quite simply astonishing. Labour put in its worst performance since 1935 at the last election, returning just 202 MPs as Boris Johnson won the biggest Conservative landslide since the days of Margaret Thatcher.

Pretty much everyone in the party, bar Sir Keir and his campaign chief Morgan McSweeney, believed Labour would be locked out of power for a decade. The Labour leader told me repeatedly he could turn it around in one term. I thought he was wrong - it now looks like he's about to be proved right.

And Sir Keir's three-nation dash is designed not as a victory lap, but a signal of intent because it symbolises how he has repeatedly said he wants to govern, for the whole of the United Kingdom: "Country first, party second" is his common refrain.

He says he wants to be a prime minister that can bring the country back together after the Scottish referendum, Brexit wars, partygate and more latterly the Tory wars and hopes the contours of an election win on Thursday night will be the first step.

Labour's internal polling points to the possibility that the party could become the largest party by vote share and even seats - although Scotland looks very touch and go - in all three nations for the first time in 24 years. Sir Tony Blair was the last Labour leader to pull that off, in his second landslide of 2001.

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But his team are acutely aware that a victory on Thursday is just the end of the beginning and the hard work begins.

Mr Johnson is a shining example of a leader who appeared to have redrawn the political map only to find out that his landslide was built on very shaky ground.

The coalition of voters he amassed to "Get Brexit Done" and keep out Jeremy Corbyn melted away for a myriad of reasons, not least his own conduct in office and a failure to deliver on Brexit promises to level up the country and control immigration.

"If you go from having 200 seats to 360 or 370, you can travel that far again in the opposite direction," says one Labour insider.

"It is in your hands, but you cannot assume that a possibly big majority means anything in the next election. We are going to have to work extremely hard to keep those votes and to try and get those who don't vote for us to vote in the future."

Because what Sir Keir's team are also acutely aware of is that their victory is predicated, in a large part, not on what the Labour leader is offering but a collective sentiment in the country that voters want the Conservatives out.

Wherever I have travelled in this campaign, I cannot find a voter with a positive view of this Conservative government, with polling showing three out of four voters are dissatisfied with it.

It is difficult to reconcile the fatality of the blow that could be landed on the Conservatives by an opponent wielding the weapon. Sir Keir has nowhere near the favourability ratings of Sir Tony or even Lord Cameron, but could be heading for a big majority nevertheless.

But it also means that if Sir Keir manages to seal the deal with the voters in a meaningful way on Thursday night, he could find himself in the shortest of PM honeymoon periods.

He might be able to pick up a wide base of support, but, as his team acknowledge, it could be very shallow too.

"For some voters, all they want to do is get the Tories out. So we have to win them over again in office in order to try to win them over again at the next election," says one senior Labour figure.

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It will, Labour insiders concede, take time. The scale of the victory - be it two figures or over 100 - won't change the reality that Sir Keir has sold a cautious mandate to the country. "Whatever the upper number we could win, it doesn't change how much money we have available to spend," cautions a Labour operative.

"When Labour figures talk about being more radical, they mean tax more, perhaps spend more. But that is not the change we are driving at, we have to change people's lives by growing the economy and it will be the same whether a majority came in at 50, or 80 or over 100."

Another figure close to Sir Keir puts it like this: "A big Labour majority does not boost public finances, but it gives you a mandate for what you are elected on and it makes it important to stick to that agenda."

But Sir Keir will want to show he's hitting the ground running.

The annual summer recess will be the shortest in memory, as the summer sitting is extended to the end of July and MPs are asked to return on 2 September. There will be a bumper King's Speech on 17 July laying out Sir Keir's legislative plan and a big house building announcement from deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner in the weeks after victory.

As for the Conservative Party, it will have to weigh up what comes next as contenders for the leadership line up to replace Mr Sunak.

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One former cabinet minister insists Mr Sunak should stay on until a new leader is elected in time for the Conservative Party conference at the end of September. Those who know the prime minister well say only he'll do the right thing and is not a man to cut and run.

Mr Sunak took the gamble in May to call the summer election, and now it looks like Sir Keir will reap the rewards.

He is poised to be the first Labour leader in nearly three decades to win from opposition and lead the first Labour government in 14 years.

That makes the win historic, as any change of power between parties always is. Whether Sir Keir's victory will prove as consequential for the United Kingdom as the landmark governments of Clement Attlee in 1945, Margaret Thatcher from 1979 or Tony Blair's three terms remains to be seen.