Sylvia Hermon holds North Down - but with DUP now on her tail
INDEPENDENT unionist Lady Sylvia Hermon was returned as expected to represent North Down - but now finds the DUP breathing down her neck.
The former Ulster Unionist, who has represented the largely affluent constituency for 16 years, retained her seat with 16,148 votes.
But despite winning a 41 per cent share, the widow of former RUC Chief Constable Sir Jack Hermon saw her total drop by 1,500 on 2015.
Her nearest challenger, the DUP's Alex Easton, meanwhile put on 6,500 votes to slash Mrs Hermon's majority from a comfortable 9,000 to less than 1,200.
With turnout up around five per cent, it seemed the new voters strongly favoured the DUP, who remain firmly pro-Brexit while Mrs Hermon voted remain in last year's referendum.
Speaking after her win, the 61-year-old said the election had been "totally unnecessary" but pledged to be the "moderate" unionist voice for Northern Ireland in Westminster.
"I am enormously grateful - doesn't mater who you actually voted for, the fact that you didn't let the weather put you off coming out and exercising your franchise, so well done to all of you and thank you so much for that," she said.
"To the DUP candidate, Alex Easton, you've done terrifically but I won".
Mr Easton said he was "really pleased" with the result which saw his party's share of the vote rocket by almost 15 per cent.
"I'm getting a lot closer. I'll keep working away at it, hopefully I'll get there at some stage in the future," he said.
Coming in a distant third in the poll was Andrew Muir of the Alliance Party, who saw a slight rise in his party's vote share, as did Green Party leader Steven Agnew.
Mrs Hermon will now return to Westminster as the only Northern Ireland MP outside the two largest local parties and the only one taking her seat who favours remaining in the EU.
Lady Sylvia Hermon (Ind) 16,148 (41.21%) -8.0%
Alex Easton (DUP) 14,940 (38.13%), +14.52%
Andrew Muir (All) 3,639 (9.29%) +0.70%
Steven Agnew (Green) 2,549 (6.51%) +1.06%
Frank Shivers (Con) 941 (2.40%) -2.03%
Therese McCartney (SF) 531 (1.36%) +0.60%
Caoimhe McNeill (SDLP) 400 (1.02%) +0.03%
Gavan Reynolds (Ind) 37 (0.09%)
Turnout 39,185 (60.91%) +4.92%
For a full list of results click here.