Sylvia Hermon steps down in North Down…

So two retiring MPs have decided not to run. One, David Simpson who after much speculation when Guido announced it last week, he released a statement this morning that in consideration of his family would not be running again.

And this evening, Sylvia Hermon has announced she will not be running either. I suspect not only that she has had a look at the numbers, but the strain of running without a party machine behind her was simply too much.

In fact her vote has been tumbling from a high point of 21,181 or 63.3% in 2010: a year when the DUP stood aside as she defended against former UU colleagues in the UCU-NF experiment.

In two subsequent elections, the Ulster Unionists stood aside to allow her to defend against the DUP. That means they haven’t contested a seat they once dominated under their own name since she last stood for them back in 2005.

On the face of it, it will be tough for them to scramble a winning candidate against the DUP’s Alex Easton, who saw his vote rise by some 14.4% in 2017. Hermon was the Remain’s only realistic hope of taking a seat here.

Without her to hold that liberal Unionist space open Easton should now gain the seat for DUP at a canter with the Alliance, whose footprint is just not broad enough within the constituency, taking second place.

In theory, Upper Bann is a target for the UUP. However, Simpson after years of dropping percentages opened a massive gap between himself and Doug Beattie in 2017. Even against a new candidate, it will be tough to close that gap.

In a constituency where the Orange Order still plays an important role, they would need a candidate who could draw on that vote and pull in working-class loyalist votes against a new DUP candidate.

But it is in reality the most outside of all their outside chances.