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Trimble's victory stokes threat of Unionist revolt

By Christopher Walker, Chief Ireland Correspondent

LONDON may be ready to devolve power back to Northern Ireland at midnight, but there are growing signs that David Trimble's troubles will not end at that point.

On Saturday, the Ulster Unionist Party leader received the backing of his ruling council to return to power-sharing with Sinn Fein. But it was at the price of a deeply divided party that may yet shed some crucial members: Mr Trimble squeaked home with 53 per cent of the vote.

Leading what is expected to be a never-ending barrage of criticism from the defeated "No" camp, William Ross, the dissident UUP MP for East Londonderry, said that Mr Trimble's narrow victory - the smallest he has secured in the Ulster Unionist Council - was "the worst possible result" for the party.

"I am sorry it wasn't 47-53 per cent the other way, but what we got was the worst possible result for the Unionist Party, for Unionists generally, and for Northern Ireland," Mr Ross said.

"I don't believe in the long run this system can work. There are very few occasions in the past when a party leader has carried on with 47 per cent of his party against him. I fear the Unionist Party is headed for electoral disaster."

For more of this story, click here.

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