Select committee chairs and former Cabinet ministers are among the MPs who signed a letter to the Prime Minister on Wednesday sparking fears of a Tory civil war.
The rift in the party over Brexit appeared to widen yesterday as several heavyweight Brexiteers piled on the pressure at Prime Minister’s Questions, reminding Mrs May of their “red lines” for negotiations.
And the PM came under fire as 19 Remainers said they were “disappointed” in MPs’ attempts to “impose their own conditions” on Brexit.
The letter reads: “It is highly irresponsible to seek to dictate terms which could lead to the UK walking away from these negotiations.”
Former education secretary Nicky Morgan, work and pensions secretary Stephen Crabb, and attorney general Dominic Grieve signed the letter, which was co-ordinated by Ms Morgan.
Health select committee chair Sarah Wollaston and justice chair Bob Neill also signed the letter, as did former ministers such as Ed Vaizey and Anna Soubry, and rising stars in the party such as Johnny Mercer and Heidi Allen.
Jacob Rees-Mogg was among the backbench Brexiteers who slapped down the Prime Minister at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.
He suggested Mrs May should “apply a new coat of paint to her red lines, because I fear on Monday they were beginning to look a little pink”.
Bernard Jenkin said the UK would find it impossible to do trade deals with Australia or the US if it remained “shackled” to EU law, while Peter Bone offered to go over to Brussels to “sort them out”.
But the Tory Remainers have praised Mrs May’s stance, saying it is right that she should want to finish negotiating phase 1 of talks before moving on to trade discussions.
They underline the Prime Minister’s long-time commitment to a “deep and special partnership with the EU” and say this will help to bring people together from different sides of the EU referendum debate.
The letter concludes: “The Secretary of State for Exiting the EU has said that the Article 50 negotiations are the most important in the UK’s modern history.
“We agree and urge you to take whatever time is necessary to get the next stage of the UK’s relationship with the EU right.”
The full list of signatories to the letter is as follows: Nicky Morgan, Antoinette Sandbach, Ed Vaizey, Dominic Grieve, Bob Neill, Stephen Hammond, Vicky Ford, Stephen Crabb, Paul Masterton, Anna Soubry, Sarah Wollaston, Oliver Heald, Gary Streeter, Johnny Mercer, Jonathan Djanogly,…