Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Friday, 19 February 2010

'No dispensation' over Tory link

Lady Sylvia Hermon
Discussions involving Lady Hermon took place this week

The Conservatives have dismissed comments by Lady Sylvia Hermon that she could be given special dispensation to run as an Ulster Unionist candidate.

This is rather than under the joint Conservative and Unionist banner.

The North Down MP, who opposes her party's link-up with the Tories, was speaking after a meeting to discuss the issue earlier this week.

A Conservative spokesperson said if elected she would have to take the whip at Westminster.

This would also include supporting the Tory manifesto.

Discussions involving Lady Hermon, members of her constituency association and UUP officials took place earlier this week at Stormont.

It is understood the she has agreed to consider standing as an Ulster Unionist candidate in return for supporting the Conservatives should they form the next government.

Lady Hermon said: "There are clearly many difficulties to be overcome before that could happen and time is not on my side, as the General Election draws closer by the day".

Nominations for the North Down constituency close next Tuesday and the issue is expected to be raised when the Ulster Unionist Party executive meet on Wednesday.

The electoral link-up between the parties was forged in 2008.

Together the parties will select candidates to stand in Westminster and European elections.

In October, the Conservatives selected Ian Parsley to stand in North Down.

A former Alliance Party member, Mr Parsley joined the Conservative Party in September 2009.

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