chapter  20
7 CHANGE AND PROGRESS 1846–67
Pages 6

Peel’s government was the last ministry to hold an overall Commons majority for some 20 years. The Conservatives divided permanently over the repeal of the Corn Laws. The ‘protectionist’ majority, some 240 MPs, retained the party label under the leadership first of the Earl of Derby and later of Benjamin Disraeli, who emerged as their most prominent figure after Peel’s death in 1850. The ‘Peelite’ minority of about 120 worked in somewhat uneasy co-operation with the Liberals up to 1865, but did not merge with them until that year.