The Conservative Party's electoral alliance with the Ulster Unionist Party suffered a blow when it was confirmed tonight that the UUP's only MP had refused to stand on the joint ticket.

Sylvia Hermon, sitting MP in North Down, has told her party she will not be seeking the candidacy in the forthcoming British general election.

The widow of the late RUC chief constable, Jack Hermon, has been an opponent of the Tory link-up since it was agreed in 2008.

UUP leader Reg Empey said he was sorry she would not be standing for the new electoral partnership.

'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,' he said.

The deadline for nominations was 5pm this evening.