Lady Hermon says she intends to continue to serve in some capacity
The Ulster Unionists' only MP, Lady Sylvia Hermon, has given her strongest indication yet that she will stand as an independent candidate in North Down.
Lady Hermon has told the Politics Show "It's not my intention to walk away from North Down".
The North Down MP had previously said she would not seek the nomination as a Conservative and Unionist candidate.
Lady Hermon, who has consistently opposed the UUP-Conservative pact, stressed she would not stand on the joint ticket.
"I'm not a Tory - I'm not going to stand under the Tory-Ulster Unionist banner - it's as simple as that," she said.
'Time to Think'
In an exclusive interview with the Politics Show, Lady Hermon spoke of her bond with North Down and the support she had received after the death of her husband, Sir Jack Hermon, the former Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.
"When I say that I love this constituency, I really love this constituency.
"It's my constituents who gave me a light at the end of a very dark tunnel after Jack died and I intend to continue to serve in this constituency in some capacity.
"I just have to, as Jack would have advised, you just have to take time to think," she said.
Sir Reg Empey and UUP Chairman David Campbell have said they wished to record their regret at Lady Hermon's decision not to stand under the joint ticket.
In a statement, they said: "We wish to record our regret at her decision, but also our sincere appreciation for her exemplary service to her constituents in North Down, our party and the wider community, since her election as Ulster Unionist MP in 2001."
The Ulster Conservatives and Unionists - New Force (UCUNF) electoral link-up between the two parties was forged in 2008.
The UUP and Conservatives have agreed to select candidates to stand in Westminster and European elections.
In October, the Conservatives selected Ian Parsley as their choice to stand in North Down.
A former Alliance Party member, Mr Parsley joined the Conservative Party in September 2009.