Telegraph accused of 'bullying' Tory rebel MPs after labelling them Brexit 'mutineers'



LONDON - 15 Conservative MPs who plan to vote against the government on an amendment to the withdrawal bill have been branded "mutineers" by The Daily Telegraph in a front page splash that has caused outrage in Westminster.

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".

The MPs were pictured smiling on the front of the Telegraph after they indicated they would vote against Theresa May's efforts to fix the date of Brexit on 29 March 2019.

Among the critics of the Daily Telegraph's "mutineers" headline was Brexit Minister Steve Baker, who tweeted: "I regret any media attempts to divide our party".

However, government ministers were quick to disavow the front page, insisting that they did not want their party to be divided by the media and that they were working constructively with those Tories seeking improvements to the European Union withdrawal bill.

One of them, former attorney general Dominic Grieve, said it was "utterly pointless and counterproductive" and would remove any flexibility in case the negotiations were delayed.

The government won the first five votes late Tuesday on the EU (Withdrawal) Bill, which seeks to formally end Britain's membership and transfer European law onto the United Kingdom statute books.

"But we want a proper Brexit, one that works for jobs and industry, that's what we're trying to get".

A eurosceptic Conservative MP, Bernard Jenkin, told the debate Tuesday that any lawmakers who opposed the government's move "are open to the charge that they don't want us to leave the European Union".

Mr Hammond told BBC Radio 5 live the bill, which is now being debated line-by-line by MPs, was "the most important constitutional thing we will do for 50 years" adding: "We might as well do it right".

"If I wanted to stop Brexit I should have voted against Article 50".

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