Daily Telegraph accused of 'blatant bullying' of Tory Brexit 'mutineers'

Wednesday, 15 Nov, 2017

Another, Anna Soubry, said it was a "blatant piece of bullying" and insisted none of those named wanted to delay or thwart Brexit.

Britain trigged the two-year Article 50 process of leaving the European Union on March 29 this year, but this can be extended if all 28 European Union member states including Britain agree.

Others listed include the former Chancellor Kenneth Clarke, the former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan, the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee Tom Tugendhat and Sarah Wollaston, the chairman of the Commons Liaison Committee.

Several Tories say they will vote against a bid to enshrine an exact date for Brexit in law.

She also hit out at a forthcoming front page article by the Telegraph, for its edition of Wednesday 15 November, listing 15 Tory MPs as "Brexit mutineers".

Pro-remain Conservative MP Anna Soubry, who was also featured on the Telegraph's front page, told MPs the coverage by the newspaper was a "blatant piece of bullying" and she regarded it as a "badge of honour".

Steve Baker, a Brexit minister, was quick to stand up for the Conservative rebels' right to seek improvements to the bill, saying he regretted any media attempts to divide his party.

MPs began eight days of detailed scrutiny of the bill on Tuesday evening, with ministers seeing off the first attempts to change the legislation.

The government comfortably won the first five votes on amendments to the bill with majorities around 20, despite all the main opposition parties voting against them.

They confronted Julian Smith, the new chief whip, during a meeting on Monday to express their fury at the United Kingdom government's plans. "But we want a proper Brexit, one that works for jobs and industry, that's what we're trying to get".

"If fighting for the best possible future for our country and our government is considered mutiny - then bring it on", tweeted one MP, Heidi Allen.

To that effect, it has tabled its own amendment putting the date of Britain's departure onto the face of the bill, which was being debated later on Tuesday, although not taken to a vote.

Brexiteer Geoffrey Cox seemed to echo this position, telling MPs: "Let us suppose our own negotiators wish an extension, it is curtailing the flexibility and room for manoeuvre of our own negotiators".

Keir Starmer, Labour's chief Brexit spokesman, said the proposal was "a significant climbdown from a weak government on the verge of defeat".

Former Cabinet Office minister Sir Oliver Letwin told MPs that he would vote with the government on Tuesday night, but the part of the withdrawal bill that deals with retained European Union law is a "frightful mess".

"If it doesn't what will happen is it will get massacred in the House of Lords - quite rightly".