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Lady Sylvia’s future still not resolved after Empey meeting

The future of the Ulster Unionist Party’s only MP was still undecided last night as Lady Sylvia Hermon confirmed a two hour meeting with party leader Sir Reg Empey over its link-up with the Conservatives did not reach a firm conclusion.

Lady Hermon previously said the tie-in announced last year left her “deeply unhappy,” casting doubts on whether she will represent the party in this year’s General Election.

The popular North Down MP told the Belfast Telegraph Saturday’s meeting was “not ill-tempered at any stage” but did not result in agreement.

“They even made the tea for me, so there weren’t any raised voices though the talks were fairly animated.

“We actually took time to talk through a range of options but I kept repeating my consistent opposition to being obliged to vote with the Tories in the division lobbies, except on votes of conscience.

“So even after two hours we still had no meeting of minds and consequently no clear outcome either. They are to reflect on what I said.”

Lady Hermon’s future is expected to be discussed at a meeting of party officers on Friday.

Sir Reg declined to comment on the meeting. “I have nothing to say about it.”

The Conservative Party yesterday issued a pre-election joint statement from Sir Reg and Owen Paterson, Conservative Shadow Secretary of State, in which they called for 2010 to be a “year for change” in Northern Ireland.

Echoing US President Barack Obama’s “change we can believe in” election slogan, the pair said Northern Ireland needed “change to get back on its feet” and new economic policies while calling for an end to “the old style of politics that divides Northern Ireland rather than unites it and tolerates the scandal of double-jobbing”.

Yesterday’s statement, which was issued by the Conservatives, bemoaned Northern Ireland’s standing on the margins of UK politics being “represented by parties that can never form a government or even hold ministerial office at Westminster”.

“We need a strong, modern Prime Minister leading a united government for the whole of the United Kingdom. David Cameron has proved he offers that.”

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