Sylvia Hermon said she couldn't pretend to endorse the link
The Ulster Unionists' only MP, Sylvia Hermon, has said she refused to attend the party's conference because of her unhappiness at a pact with the Tories.
Speaking to the News Letter, she said she could not "go along and pretend to endorse" the electoral link-up.
Lady Hermon was pictured in a Sunday newspaper apparently walking her dog as the conference took place on Saturday.
The Conservatives and UUP will select joint candidates to fight NI seats at the next general election.
Lady Hermon, who is MP for North Down, has consistently made clear her opposition to the arrangement and has said she will not stand under the joint banner.
She told the News Letter: "Whilst I am truly sorry to have missed seeing many of my Ulster Unionist friends at yesterday's conference, I simply couldn't go along and pretend to endorse the New Force arrangements."
The Conservatives have selected Ian Parsley as their candidate for North Down.
Mr Parsley defected to the Tories from the Alliance party earlier this year.
Once the UUP select a candidate a committee of Ulster Unionists and Conservatives will have to select the joint candidate to fight the seat.
Mr Parsley said it would not be fair to comment before the UUP have completed their selection process, and the final candidate list for the Conservatives & Unionists has been agreed.
He added: "In North Down, Lady Hermon and I have always worked very well together on behalf of constituents on a whole range of matters and I have no doubt we will continue to do so in the future."
BBC Northern Ireland political editor Mark Devenport said: "The candidate selection in North Down has been pushed back but as things stand there seems every chance that Lady Sylvia could end up going independent."