William Pitt’s revamped administration met the new Parliament with a commanding majority, but the land war was going badly. In 1797, Pitt was assailed by a financial crisis and a naval mutiny, while the threat of invasion by Bonaparte’s army became real. In May that year Charles James Fox and most of his rump of opposition Whigs seceded from Parliament, after calling for reform. Prompted by the Irish rebellion of 1798, which seemed to endanger national security, Pitt carried the Act of Union with Ireland, by which on 1 Jan. 1801 100 Members, returned by 66 constituencies, were added to the House. Soon afterwards Pitt fell, the victim of the king’s veto on Catholic emancipation, proposed as the corollary to the Union. George III replaced him with the Speaker, Henry Addington, who, propped up initially by Pitt, concluded the peace treaty of Amiens. His ministry was in an ostensibly powerful position when the 1796 Parliament was dissolved at the end of June 1802, but it was brought down within two years.
The general election lasted from 25 May until 29 June 1796. Only 66 of the 314 constituencies (21 per cent) were contested. The Foxite Whigs campaigned for peace negotiations and the repeal of repressive domestic legislation. There was a notable contest in Southwark, where the Friend of the People George Tierney