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Sylvia Eileen, Lady Hermon (née Paisley; born 11 August 1955) is a Northern Irish politician. Since 2001, she has been the Member of Parliament for the constituency of North Down; she was first elected for the Ulster Unionist Party but has sat as an Independent unionist since 2010. She is the widow of Sir Jack Hermon, who served as Chief Constable of the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

Sylvia, Lady Hermon

Official portrait of Lady Hermon crop 2.jpg
Lady Hermon in 2017
Member of Parliament
for North Down
Assumed office
7 June 2001
Preceded byRobert McCartney
Majority1,208 (3.1%)
Personal details
Born
Sylvia Eileen Paisley

(1955-08-11) 11 August 1955 (age 64)
Galbally, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland
NationalityBritish
Political partyIndependent
Ulster Unionist (1998–2010)
Spouse(s)Sir Jack Hermon
Children2
Alma materAberystwyth University
The College of Law
ProfessionLaw Lecturer, Politician

On 25 March 2010, Lady Hermon announced her resignation from the Ulster Unionist Party, and has served since then as an Independent MP. Her decision was triggered by the Ulster Unionist alliance with the Conservative Party.[1] She successfully retained her seat in the May 2010 election with a large gain in her share of the vote, increasing her majority,[2] retaining the seat again in the May 2015 election.[3] She also retained her seat in 2017 with a reduced 41% of the vote.

Contents

BackgroundEdit

Born Sylvia Eileen Paisley, a Presbyterian[4] in the mainly Republican area of Galbally, County Tyrone, her father was Robert Paisley, a farmer, and she had three sisters. The family saw tragedy when Hermon's mother accidentally drowned when Hermon was four. She went to Dungannon High School before studying Law at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth.[5]

She lectured in Law at the Queen's University of Belfast at the same time as David Trimble. She did not enter politics until 1998 when she joined the Ulster Unionist Party, having been impressed by the role the party had played in negotiating the Good Friday Agreement.

On 6 November 2008 her husband Sir John Hermon died. Shortly afterward, her father also died.[6]

She is a longstanding supporter of the Alzheimer's Research Trust and helped launch its Northern Ireland network centre.[7]

Political careerEdit

Within the UUP, Hermon was regarded as being on the more socially liberal wing of the party. Hermon was chosen as UUP candidate for the North Down constituency to contest the 2001 general election and defeated the incumbent Robert McCartney by over 7,000 votes. During the election she gained the support of the local branch of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland who withdrew their own candidate.[8]

Hermon became Chair of the North Down branch of the UUP in 2001 and held this position until 2003. In 2001 she was also appointed UUP Spokesperson for Youth and Women's Issues, Home Affairs and Trade and Industry. She subsequently lost the Trade and Industry portfolio and took responsibility for Culture, Media and Sport in 2002. Outside of the UUP, Hermon has also been involved in policing support and pensioners' rights campaigns.[9]

Hermon was the only Ulster Unionist to be returned to Westminster in the 2005 general election and as a result figured in consideration for who would succeed David Trimble as party leader.[10] Initially considered to be amongst the frontrunners, Hermon eventually declined the opportunity, feeling that she could not combine it with her responsibility of caring for her husband, who suffered from Alzheimer's disease, and instead supported the unsuccessful bid of Alan McFarland.[11]

In 2009, Lady Hermon announced her opposition to the Ulster Unionist link-up with the Conservative Party. She declared, in an unplanned announcement, during an interview in her constituency office, "At the present time, I can't see myself standing under a Conservative banner… If my party chooses to move to call themselves by a different name, I'm terribly sorry and terribly disappointed by that but I remain an Ulster Unionist. That was certainly my mandate and I've loved serving the people of North Down. They have stood by me through the most difficult of times and if they choose and wish me to serve them I would do my very best to do that."[12]

On 23 February 2010, Lady Hermon confirmed that she would not be seeking the nomination as a Conservative and Unionist candidate.[13] In her parliamentary votes, she was closer to the Labour Party than the Conservative Party.[14] On 6 May 2010 standing as an Independent unionist candidate she was re-elected with a majority of over 14,000 votes ahead of the "Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force" candidate.[15] She was re-elected in May 2015 and June 2017, both times as an Independent unionist,[16][17] and the only independent MP elected in those Parliaments.

Although Hermon had previously been considered to be close to the Labour Party, she has said that she would not support its current leader Jeremy Corbyn in government.[18]

BrexitEdit

Hermon campaigned for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum on Brexit. As Sinn Féin, who also supported a Remain vote, abstain from their seats in the House of Commons, and the DUP supported a Leave vote, Hermon is the only MP representing Northern Ireland who sits in the House of Commons who supported Remain. Hermon described the potential for a "no deal" Brexit as a "threat to UK stability", saying that such a circumstance could lead to a hard border, which could then, combined with changing demographics in Northern Ireland, lead to a border poll on united Ireland, which could lead to Northern Ireland re-unifying with the Republic of Ireland.[19]

Hermon voted in favour of the Withdrawal Agreement in the meaningful vote on 15 January 2019 which was defeated by 432 votes to 202.[20] She voted against the motion of no confidence in the government of Theresa May called by Jeremy Corbyn the following day.[21] During the phase of indicative votes in Parliament, Hermon voted in favour of a second referendum, as well as the option of revoking Article 50 to avoid a no-deal Brexit.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ MP Lady Sylvia Hermon quits Ulster Unionists BBC News, 25 March 2010
  2. ^ General Election 2010 – North Down BBC News
  3. ^ Election 2015 North Down Parliamentary constituency BBC News
  4. ^ "Sylvia Hermon Resources and Information". sylviahermon.org. 11 February 2009. Archived from the original on 15 April 2014. As a Presbyterian myself, I must say I was utterly dismayed and extremely angry as more and more details of the PMS fiasco unfolded.
  5. ^ "UUP biography". Archived from the original on 9 June 2008.
  6. ^ Lady Sylvia: Part 2, by James O'Fee Impala Publishers Blog Page, 2 April 2009
  7. ^ Latest news – The leading UK research charity for dementia[permanent dead link] Alzheimer's Research Trust, 22 February 2008
  8. ^ "Profile: Lady Sylvia Hermon". BBC News Online. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 14 July 2017.
  9. ^ "Cameron shines at UUP conference". BBC News. 6 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2008.
  10. ^ "Hermon out of UUP leadership race". BBC News Online. 17 May 2005. Retrieved 18 May 2014.
  11. ^ Profile: Sir Reg Empey BBC News, 1 February 2007
  12. ^ Hermon: why she rejected Tory deal Belfast Telegraph, 14 May 2009
  13. ^ UUP MP Lady Sylvia Hermon rejects UCUNF candidacy BBC News, 23 February 2010
  14. ^ "Blow to David Cameron as only Ulster Unionist MP quits party". TheGuardian.com. 25 March 2010. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  15. ^ North Down: Sylvia Hermon retains Down North seat BBC News, 7 May 2010
  16. ^ "Election 2015: Sinn Féin loses Fermanagh and South Tyrone". 8 May 2015 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  17. ^ "Election results 2017: Theresa May – DUP government 'to continue with Brexit'". 10 June 2017 – via www.bbc.com.
  18. ^ "'I could never back Labour if Corbyn was its leader', says Hermon". Belfast Telegraph. 3 June 2017. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  19. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m00024tj
  20. ^ "European Union (Withdrawal) Act". Hansard. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.
  21. ^ "No Confidence in Her Majesty's Government". Hansard. 16 January 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2019.

External linksEdit