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.

Lady Hermon was first elected as an Ulster Unionist but left the party after it agreed an electoral pact with the Conservatives. She retained her seat as an Independent in further elections, and was the sole remain voice from Northern Ireland sitting in the House of Commons after 2017.

In a statement she said she was "profoundly grateful" to have served for 18 years and found the decision to stand down "particularly difficult".

"During my 18 years as an MP, I have tried hard to balance public and family responsibilities. I owe my family a huge debt of gratitude for allowing me, without ever a word of reproach, to spend so much time at Westminster; they understood how much joy and satisfaction I had from working on behalf of others.

"Now, however, my priorities for the next few years are to spend my time at home in Northern Ireland to see more of my family and to step back from the frontline of public life.

"I apologise most sincerely for any disappointment caused by my decision not to stand."
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Candidate announcements from other parties are expected in the coming days, with chances for the DUP, UUP and Alliance to pick up a seat.

Lady Hermon's departure from political life sparked tributes from several high-profile politicians.

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith honoured her commitment to representing Northern Ireland. He wrote on Twitter: "Very sorry indeed to hear that Sylvia Hermon is stepping down.

"Her integrity, passion & commitment to Northern Ireland has been outstanding."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar also extended his well-wishes and said her constituency, and Northern Ireland as whole, are losing an "honourable and brave politician".

"She has given so much in her 18 years as an MP. I wish her the very best in the future and know she will enjoy having more time with her family," he added.

Sinn Fein's Michelle Gildernew was among those paying her tribute, saying: "Lady Hermon was a diligent representative for the people of North Down and we have been friends since we were both elected to Westminster.

"While we held different political perspectives, I found her to be someone who acted at all times with respect and integrity.

"I want to wish Lady Sylvia and her family well in the future as she leaves elected politics at this election."


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