The first general election under the Left (November 1876) had yielded the cabinet the overwhelming majority of 421 Ministerialists against 87 Conservatives, but the very size of the majority rendered it unmanageable.
After the general election of 1880, however, the Ministerialists, aided by a number of factious Conservatives, passed a third bill repealing the grist tax on wheat (10th July 1880), the repeal to take effect from the 1st of January 1884 onwards.
He was looked on by the ministerialists as the least unreasonable of his party, and by the "ultras" as the safest of their leaders.
The government proposed that Prince Albert should receive an annuity of 50,000, but an amendment of Colonel Sibthorpa politician of no great repute - for making the annuity £30,000 was carried against ministers by 262 votes to 158, the Tories and Radicals going into the same lobby, and many ministerialists taking no part in the division.
Ministerialists, 103; Conservatives, 42; Regionalists, 5; Republicans, 4;~ Carlists, 3; miscellaneous groups, Ii.