25/03/2010

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.

She will stand as an independent candidate at the forthcoming general election while speculation is mounting that the DUP will not field a runner in the Co Down constituency to ensure the pro-Union vote is not split.

This could pave the way for the popular MP's return to the Commons.

The UUP and Tories have already chosen Ian Parsley to contest the North Down constituency as an Ulster Conservatives and Unionist - New Force (UCUNF) candidate.

Lady Hermon, the wife of the late Sir Jack Hermon, had insisted from the outset she was "not a Tory" and that she did not intend to stand under a joint UCUNF banner.
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She said today that the distance between her and the UUP had become "great over recent months".

"I have decided to resign from the Ulster Unionist Party with effect from midnight last night (Wednesday).

"I have taken a considerable amount of time to think and to reflect before coming to this decision, but I believe it to be the right one for the party and for me."

Lady Hermon said she has been proud to serve the UUP at Westminster since first becoming its MP for North Down in 2001.

She said she remained "deeply appreciative of kindnesses shown by and good friendships made with members throughout the party".

"It is now my intention to stand my ground, fighting the forthcoming General Election as an independent and fighting to win."

Lady Hermon added: "It will be the people of North Down who will give the ultimate verdict on my record as their MP."

(PR/NS)

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