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Hermon focuses on protecting union

Published 08/05/2015

Lady Sylvia Hermon has held her seat in North Down
Lady Sylvia Hermon has held her seat in North Down

Independent unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon has called on the next government to find the glue to keep the UK together after romping to victory in North Down.

The one-time Ulster Unionist, widow of former RUC chief constable Sir John Hermon, held on to her Westminster seat with 17,689 votes shattering a failed challenge from the Democratic Unionist Party.

But Lady Hermon dismissed any suggestion that she would wield any influence over the make-up of the next government.

"David Cameron has a number of parties and people he can call upon but I don't list myself among them, I'm not expecting any phone call any time soon, and that's not a disappointment," she said.

The DUP's Alex Easton, a poll topper in the Stormont Assembly elections in 2007 and 2011, was Lady Hermon's main rival in the affluent constituency, and selected to challenge at this election and build toward the next.

While the Ulster Unionists stood aside, senior DUP strategists saw no reason to give the independent unionist a free run when she would not take the whip in the Commons.

But she insisted her focus in Westminster will be on protecting the union, a message she said was a major theme on the doorsteps and in the gardens of North Down.

"We've been very keen to devolve power. We have given more powers to the regions and therefore for the whole of the UK there has to be efforts made over the next five years to find out what's the glue that's going to keep the UK together," she said.

"If I knew the answer to that, what form the glue takes, I'd be knocking on the door of No 10 and saying this is what we have to do."

Lady Hermon said a realistic starting point was the idea of a constitutional convention to examine the future of the UK but also warned MPs need to think about reform at Westminster.

She hit out at Tory backbenchers pushing for English votes for English legislation in the wake of the independence referendum in Scotland and the follow-up success of the SNP in the election.

Lady Hermon's victory continues the long tradition of independent unionist politics in North Down.

Jim Kilfedder held the seat from 1970 until his death in 1995 and former UK Unionist Robert McCartney was once an MP for the constituency.

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