Orange Order in Westminster to hammer home its animosity to Brexit deal
Senior Orangemen will meet with politicians at Westminster today to express their concern over Theresa May's Brexit plan.
The joint delegation will include the grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland Edward Stevenson, who will be joined by colleagues from Scotland and England.
Orange Order grand secretary Rev Mervyn Gibson will also be present.
They will hold meetings with MPs and peers from across the political spectrum.
They will also lobby over their reservations regarding the withdrawal agreement and "its implications for the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom".
The Orange Order has previously voiced its opposition.
Speaking ahead of the London visit, Mr Stevenson said: "The Orange Institution fully respects the electoral mandate for Brexit and now wishes to see its implementation on a basis which fully respects the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.
"However, it is abundantly clear the current agreement, including a proposed backstop, does not rule out a future regulatory border in the Irish Sea, thereby making Northern Ireland a place apart. Such a scenario remains unacceptable."
He added: "In our series of arranged meetings we aim to ensure that all parties at Westminster are made aware of the strength of opposition to the proposed deal across unionism.
"We look forward to making our case heard at Parliament."
The House of Commons is expected to vote on Mrs May's deal next Tuesday.
MPs currently seem unlikely to approve it, with staunch opposition from the DUP and Tory Brexiteers.
The debate on the Prime Minister's plan is due to resume tomorrow.
Junior Brexit Minister Kwasi Kwarteng yesterday said he believed Mrs May would win the vote. He dismissed the suggestion that she was preparing to seek approval from MPs again if she lost the first time.
In a statement in November, the Orange Order said: "Whilst uncertainty abounds regarding a no-deal scenario, the people of Northern Ireland should not be expected to accept a poor deal which goes back on the assurances offered by the Prime Minister throughout this process."
The Order remained neutral during the 2016 referendum. But it stated that it would "never be neutral on the Union".
It urged unionist politicians to "come together to oppose the current withdrawal agreement and to use their collective influence to deliver a better deal for all the people of the UK".