23/02/2010

Hermon UUP Selection Quandary

Ulster Unionists have until this evening to select the party's North Down Westminster candidate, amid continued resistance from incumbent Lady Hermon over a Tory electoral pact.

The UUP and Conservative Party have agreed to field joint candidates in every Northern Ireland constituency at this year's General Election.

Under the current process both parties each put forward a name for all 18 constituencies. A joint committee then decides who will vie for the seat under a Ulster Conservatives and Unionist - New Force (UCUNF) banner.

Lady Hermon, (pictured) the UUP's sole MP, has made her opposition to the link-up very clear. Her official nomination by the party remains outstanding, whilst the Tories have already picked former Alliance European Election runner Ian Parsley to stand in North Down.

He defected to the Conservative Party last year.
News Image
Reports of a mooted dispensation for Lady Hermon have been played down. She has made it clear she would not take the Tory whip, which would force her to back the party on certain Commons votes.

A compromise could see the popular Lady Hermon stand as purely a UUP runner, but would - if re-elected - back the Tories on key votes.

She herself has recognised how difficult and complicated such an arrangement would be.

Conservatives would expect her to sign up to the party's election manifesto should she gain its support.

Lady Hermon famously said she was "not a Tory, never have been, never will be".

The UUP/Tory agreement was made in 2008 and has already seen the two parties field joint European Election candidates.

Sir Reg Empey, the UUP leader, has not ruled out the prospect of his party members taking Cabinet or ministerial positions within a future Conservative government.

Ulster Unionist members have until 5pm today to formally nominate Lady Hermon to fight for her Commons seat.

(PR/GK)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

25 March 2010
MP Hermon Quits UUP
The only Ulster Unionist MP at Westminster has quit the party over its electoral pact with the Tories. Sylvia Hermon today resigned from the UUP and declared she would defend her North Down seat.
26 October 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.
27 February 2009
Hermon Absent For Tory/UUP Launch
The Ulster Unionist's sole Westminster MP was conspicuous by her absence at last night's unveiling ceremony of a new UUP and Conservative Party voting pact. Lady Hermon (pictured) did not attend the event to 'christen' the agreement, which has been officially branded 'Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force'.
07 November 2019
Lady Hermon Stands Down As North Down MP
Lady Sylvia Hermon has confirmed that she will not contest the General Election. The Independent unionist MP held the seat for North Down since 2001. Warm tributes have been flooding in from across the political spectrum following the announcement.
14 May 2009
Empey 'Disappointed' By Sole MP Hermon
Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey (pictured here) has blasted the party's sole MP for distancing herself from a Tory link-up in the run up to the European elections.