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Abstract

This article examines Unionist constitutional thought in general, and Unionism's advocacy of the referendum in particular, in the period leading up to the 1911 Parliament Act. It argues that though the events around Lloyd George's budget in 1909 were crucial in focusing Unionist attention on the constitution, the adoption of the referendum was a product of a longstanding view of constitutional relationships. The article shows how Unionists sought to demonstrate the practicality of their proposals and that, rather than being something that Unionists adopted out of political desperation, the referendum was in fact all of a piece with their broader political and constitutional outlook.