MP believes Brexit will lead to Border poll on Irish unity
UK decision to leave EU will ‘change everything’, warns Sylvia Hermon
Independent Lady Sylvia Hermon: “In my lifetime I never thought that I would see a Border poll and I am now convinced that I probably will see a Border poll.” Photograph: Stephen Davison
A unionist MP in Northern Ireland has said she is convinced a Border poll on Irish unity will happen as a result of Brexit.
In a rare interview, Independent Lady Sylvia Hermon said she is concerned about the consequences of the UK decision to withdraw from the European Union which, she added, will “change everything”.
All other unionist MPs, who belong to the DUP, are in favour of Brexit and the party’s parliamentary leader, Nigel Dodds, recently accused Lady Hermon of giving the impression she is “siding with Dublin”.
The DUP has named Lady Hermon’s North Down seat as its number one target although it is not clear whether she will stand in the next general election.
Speaking to the BBC, the widow of the former RUC chief constable Jack Hermon called on the DUP leader, Arlene Foster, to “do more” to ensure the restoration of the collapsed devolved institutions before the summer.
She said she believed in her “heart of hearts” Ms Foster realises the need to “do more” but there should be no more “shilly-shallying” and delay.
On Brexit, Ms Hermon said: “I am worried about the consequences of Brexit. In my lifetime I never thought that I would see a Border poll and I am now convinced that I probably will see a Border poll.
“Brexit is very divisive. Brexit has and will change everything.”
In the House of Commons, she denied being in the pocket of the Dublin Government and said she resented Mr Dodds’s criticism that she was “on the side of Dublin” over suggestions for regulatory convergence and the single market.
But in her interview she said she would not engage in a personal attack and always followed her late husband Jack’s advice to “stay above the battle”.
In relation to her former Ulster Unionist colleague Lord Kilclooney’s Twitter description of Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as “the Indian”, Ms Hermon said the remarks were “embarrassing, inappropriate” and called on her former colleague should withdraw them and apologise.
“I have been in this job for 17 years. We used to have things called letters; now we have emails and we have social media.
“For Arlene to have taken the personal criticism that was directed to her and to keep going, I have to say hats off to her for doing that.
“Now I do know that Arlene needs to do more and I would like to think that in Arlene’s heart of hearts she knows she needs to do more.
“We need the Assembly up and running this side of the summer. No more shilly-shallying, no more excuses,” she said.