Belfast Telegraph

Lady Sylvia: I expect to see a border poll in my lifetime

North Down MP 'worried about the consequences' of Brexit

Lady Sylvia Hermon says Brexit has made her believe she will now see a border poll in her lifetime.

Speaking to the BBC, the independent unionist MP for North Down also said the DUP leader Arlene Foster needed to stop "shilly-shallying" and take more action to restore the Stormont Executive.

As the only unionist MP in Northern Ireland to oppose Brexit, she said she "worried about the consequences" when asked if it threatened the union with Great Britain.

She also brushed off concerns the DUP would finally take her North Down seat and criticism from their MP Nigel Dodds who accused her of siding with Dublin on Brexit.

Recently she also warned a hard Irish border after leaving the EU could result in a return to violence.

"I am worried about the long term consequences of Brexit. In my lifetime I never thought that I would see a border poll and I am now convinced that I probably will see a border poll," she told the BBC.

Unlike Arlene Foster, she maintained she would not be leaving in the event of a united Ireland.

"I'll be staying, I've always loved this country. Jack's buried here (her late husband Sir Jack Hermon), my sister's buried here, my father's buried here and I'll be buried here. I will be buried in the land that I love, I will not leave it....even if it was ruled by Dublin."

Regarding the DUP leader, she commended her for coming through "appalling criticism" on social media, but urged her to take more action to restore Stormont.

"I've been in this job for 17 years. We used to have things called letters; now we have e-mails and we have social media," she said.

"For Arlene to have taken the personal criticism that was directed to her and to keep going and keep going I have to say hats off to her for doing that.

"Now I do know that Arlene needs to do more. And I would like to think that in Arlene's heart of hearts she knows she needs to do more.

"We need the assembly up and running this side of the summer. No more shilly-shallying, no more excuses. Let's get the assembly up and running and serve the people of Northern Ireland."

She cited Lord Kilclooney's latest controversial tweet about the Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a prime example of the perils of social media.

"Social media for anyone in politics nowadays makes it even more difficult, which is probably why I stay off Twitter and Facebook and I think there are some other politicians, perhaps one or two inside the House of Lords, who should stay off Twitter too.

"His (Lord Kilclooney's) remarks recently were embarrassing, inappropriate and I'm speaking as someone who likes John Taylor, so I just wish he would retract the remark and apologise and we could move on."

Referring to Nigel Dodd's accusations during a commons debate of siding with the Dublin government she said:

"I could hear this little voice in my head which I often hear and that is Jack, which he has said to me on other occasions: 'Keep above the battle, keep above the battle'.

"So even though I was really taken aback by what Nigel had accused me of I kept above the battle and continued in the same vein as I had begun.

"I do not like personal attacks. I try to avoid personal attacks on other people. Brexit is very divisive."

Once commanding a lead of thousands in the polls, her majority in North Down slipped to 1,200 in the recent Westminster poll.

She said she did not fear the DUP's longstanding threat to claim her seat.

"How long have they been saying that?" she said.

"They've always wanted to win North Down. Of course, they've always wanted to win North Down, but they haven't won it yet.

"Of course it's not inevitable that the DUP will take it, absolutely not. Brexit has and will change everything."

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