Walpole’s pre-eminence had been in decline for some time. Britain was involved in the War of Austrian Succession, which Walpole opposed but he was still attacked by the opposition following British military failures. The general election in the summer of 1741 saw government losses in Cornwall and Scotland and its majority fell to around 14. Rumours abounded that senior Whig grandees were negotiating with members of the opposition to reconstruct the ministry without Walpole. When parliament met the ministry held off an opposition motion to investigate the conduct of the war by 253 votes to 250. With the government defeat on an election petition two weeks later, it was clear that to retain a majority in the Commons the ministry would have to be reconstructed and Walpole agreed to resign and went to the House of Lords as Earl of Orford.