26/10/2009

Lady Hermon Snubs Tories

Lady Sylvia Hermon has said her absence from the Ulster Unionist's annual conference was in protest at the party's voting pact with the Conservatives.

The weekend conference attracted high profile Tory figures such as Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague, who spoke of the importance of strengthening the union.

Lady Hermon, the UUP's only Westminster MP, has been a vocal opponent of the link-up between her party and the Opposition, branded Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force (UCUNF).

On Saturday the North Down parliamentarian was photographed walking her dog as colleagues addressed party faithfuls.
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Lady Hermon told the News Letter said she was not prepared to "go along and pretend to endorse" the arrangement between the parties.

"Whilst I am truly sorry to have missed seeing many of my Ulster Unionist friends at yesterday's conference, I simply couldn't go along and pretend to endorse the New Force arrangements," she added.

Under the terms of the pact the UUP and Tories will select joint candidates to contest Northern Ireland constituencies at the next general election.

Former Alliance councillor and MEP candidate Ian Parsley has been chosen as the Conservatives' nominee for North Down.

The UUP will now put forward its preferred runner, and a joint committee will later rule on the successful candidate.

Many have speculated that Lady Hermon may stand as an independent at the next election.

(PR/BMcC)

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