Northern Ireland's only Independent MP at Westminster has announced that she is stepping down and will not seek re-election.

Lady Sylvia Hermon has been a Member of Parliament for North Down since 2001.

The Independent unionist's seat has been a long-term target for the DUP and her majority in the last British General Election in 2017 was just over 1,200.

She has been an outspoken critic of the DUP during her time in parliament, and a staunch supporter of the Remain campaign.

The widow of former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon began her life as a member of the Ulster Unionist Party and was elected MP under its banner in 2001.

A former law lecturer, she broke from the UUP and stood as an Independent in 2010 after it entered an electoral alliance with the Conservative Party.

Her decision will come as a surprise to political opponents who have said they will not contest the North Down seat to help her retain it.

Sinn Féin and the SDLP have both announced in recent days that they would not field candidates in the constituency in order to maximise the Remain vote and help Lady Sylvia fend off the challenge from the DUP.

The DUP also announced today that one of its 10 outgoing MPs is stepping down.

David Simpson has been a Member of Parliament for Upper Bann since 2005.

Last year it was reported that he had an affair and in a statement he apologised for "mistakes".

"In recent times it has been well-publicised that I made a mistake that brought hurt to my wife and family as well as bringing heartache to another family," his statement said.

"I have learned from my failings and my wife and children have given me a precious second chance and together we intend to look to the future together."