Theresa May facing major Conservative rebellion over Brexit date
Theresa May is facing the prospect of a major rebellion by Tory MPs over her bid to enshrine in law the date Britain leaves the European Union.
Senior Conservative backbenchers made clear their intention to vote against the plan as the Commons began line-by-line scrutiny of the Government's EU Withdrawal Bill.
Former Cabinet minister Ken Clarke said putting the precise moment of withdrawal - 11pm on 29 March, 2019 - "could be positively harmful to the national interest".
He said: "There are some very, very serious issues to be settled in this bill and I ask the Government to reconsider silly amendments thrown out because they got a good article in the Daily Telegraph."
And former Attorney General Dominic Grieve said it was a "mad" idea which had not even discussed by the Cabinet before it was announced by Brexit Secretary David Davis.
He said: "I am afraid I am just not prepared to go along with it."
Leading Remain-supporting former Tory ministers Anna Soubry, Bob Neill and Nicky Morgan all indicated that they were willing to vote with Labour against the Government's amendment when it comes to a Commons vote later this month.
The Daily Telegraph reported that at least 15 Conservative MPs could rebel, wiping out the Government's working majority and piling yet more pressure on Theresa May.
But Bernard Jenkin, a senior Leave-supporting MP, said: "Anyone who voted for Article 50, but then does not wish to fix the date, they are open to the charge that they do not actually want us to leave the European Union."