The UK General Election of February 1910 handed a providential opportunity to the Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP) and their quest for Home Rule. The sponsors of the two previous Home Rule Bills (1886 and 1893), the Liberal Party, obtained a lead of just two seats over the inveterately anti-Home Rule Conservatives and Unionists. Accordingly, they could only govern with support of the 82 IPP MPs. The earlier Bills had navigated the Commons, but then been blocked by a House of Lords veto. IPP leader John Redmond made abolition of the Lords veto the precondition of his support. Asquith, the Liberal Prime Minister, was tepid about Home Rule, concerned about the crisis it would inevitably provoke in Protestant-dominated Unionist-held areas of Ulster. Over a barrel, he conceded the IPP’s demands, but tried to escape his predicament by calling a second general election in December 1910 – to no avail: the IPP retained the balance of power.
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