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Wednesday, 2 August, 2000, 19:30 GMT 20:30 UK
Taylor would 'welcome' UUP challenge
John Taylor has held the Strangford seat for 17 years
John Taylor has held the Strangford seat for 17 years
Ulster Unionist Deputy Leader John Taylor has said he is looking forward to any challenge to his candidacy for his parliamentary seat.

The Strangford MP was responding to speculation that he may face a challenge to his candidacy from within the Ulster Unionist Party in the run up to the next general election.

Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist Weir won North Down candidacy
Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist Weir won North Down candidacy
Mr Taylor told the BBC he had not received any confirmation that he would be opposed by a challenger, but said: "I think it's a good exercise. And I look forward to the challenge.

"We are the truly democratic unionist party.

"We always invite potential candidates.

"People have stood against me before."

Anti-agreement Ulster Unionist David Burnside beat pro-Trimble candidate
Anti-agreement UUP man Burnside beat pro-Trimble candidate
Mr Taylor has held the Strangford seat in County Down for 17 years.

The Ulster Unionist Party leadership, which endorsed the Good Friday Agreement and led unionists into the Northern Ireland's power-sharing government with republicans, has recently suffered two parliamentary candidacy defeats to the anti-agreement faction of the party.

In June, anti-agreement London-based business man David Burnside, defeated Unionist leader David Trimble's chief of staff David Campbell at a selection meeting for the South Antrim Westminster seat.

And in March Peter Weir, one of the UUP's most outspoken critics of the agreement, won the selection battle to be nominated as the party's North Down candidate.

He narrowly beat Lady Sylvia Hermon, wife of former RUC Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon, in the poll.

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