Unionist MP goes it alone

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The Independent Online
A row broke out yesterday inside David Trimble's Ulster Unionist Party with one of its nine MPs announcing his intention to run as an independent in the next election.

Although the party in North Belfast has yet to hold its selection meeting the current MP, Cecil Walker, claimed he was the victim of a right-wing conspiracy which had the apparent support of the party leadership.

A split in the Unionist vote in this cockpit constituency could result in an unpredictable contest which might bring the election of a Sinn Fein MP.

Since Mr Trimble's election as leader a year ago it has been an open secret that many members of the parliamentary party he inherited have been giving him less than whole-hearted support. In turn, some of Mr Trimble's close associates have made it plain that they wanted to see many of the sitting MPs replaced by younger, more energetic and more right-wing figures. Mr Walker is 71.

David McKittrick