The news that the Ulster Unionists' only MP is quitting the party to stand as an independent in the general election is surely going to hurt the Conservative's ambitions to win seats for the first time in Nortern Ireland.
Having already ostracised the other NI parties by entering an electoral agreement with the only party to oppose the devolution of police and justice powers to the province, this looks like it might well be the death knell for this particular experiment.
Whether it was for profoundly decent philosophical reasons, or as a cynical attempt to secure an extra vote or two in the event of a very close election outcome, David Cameron's bid to get MPs elected in NI under the Conservative banner now looks in tatters. With no sitting MPs, and with disastrous results at the last elections, the UUP now looks like a millstone around Cameron's neck. Whlst Sylvia Hermon was still on board, the plan still had hope. But without even her, it is surely finished.