Belfast Telegraph

General Election: Alliance's Farry in plea to Remain voters of North Down to back him

Candidate: Stephen Farry
Candidate: Stephen Farry
Suzanne Breen

By Suzanne Breen

Alliance deputy leader Stephen Farry is to go head-to-head with the DUP in North Down in next month's Westminster election.

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Mr Farry said it was essential the constituency continued to have a strong pro-Remain voice in the House of Commons.

Lady Sylvia Hermon, who was the local MP for 18 years, announced earlier this week that she wasn't seeking re-election.

DUP MLA Alex Easton remains the favourite to take the seat.

The Ulster Unionists will select their candidate next week.

Sinn Fein isn't running in the constituency and the Greens are still debating whether to stand.

Speaking after his selection last night, Mr Farry said: "North Down had a strong pro-Remain voice in Westminster in the shape of Lady Sylvia Hermon.

"I want to continue that, building on her work, and advocate on behalf of the people of the constituency that our best future is in the EU, helping reform and shape it.

"It is simple - in this election in North Down it will come down to a straight fight between Alliance for Remain and the DUP for a hard Brexit.

"Alliance is the strongest and clearest pro-Remain party in the constituency, and I ask if voters want to Remain, then they vote Alliance on December 12."

Mr Farry insisted there was no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit.

"Already it has brought chaos and increased division to Northern Ireland, as well as the wider UK," he said.

"That's why this election is so important. It is a chance for people to say they have had enough of the devastation Brexit has had already and will continue to have on local businesses, farmers and others right across our society, including the Good Friday Agreement.

"The no-deal Brexit pursued by the Tories and their partners the DUP in particular would be catastrophic for all of Northern Ireland."

Lady Hermon was first elected as an Ulster Unionist but had sat as an independent since 2010 after she left the party in opposition to its short-lived alliance with the Tories.

Announcing her decision to retire on Wednesday, Lady Hermon said it had been the greatest honour of her life to serve her constituents.

"It is with enormous sadness that I have decided not to contest the next general election in December," she said.

"This has been a particularly difficult decision but, after much thought, I have concluded that it is the right decision for my family and for me at this time.

"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 front line of public life. If my successor enjoys the role of MP for North Down half as much as I have done, a smile will constantly be on his or her face."

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