MPs have expressed their disbelief at a group of high-profile Conservative Brexiteers allegedly being referred to as “the Grand Wizards”.
BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg tweeted on Monday evening that the group of Tories, who met the Prime Minister at Chequers on Sunday, had a new nickname.
The title Grand Wizard was formerly associated with the leader of white supremacist terrorist organisation the Klu Klux Klan.
Labour deputy leader Tom Watson tweeted: “These members of an out of touch elite are taking all of us for fools.
“In these volatile times you can be sure of one thing – whatever happens with the Brexit negotiations, these men will prosper.”
Former chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne wrote: “I’m sorry, is this for real?
“Have the leaders of the hard Brexiteers just called themselves the same name as the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan?”
Labour’s David Lammy wrote: “The United Kingdom is currently being held to ransom by a bunch of wild-eyed hard Brexiteers who have inherited the name used by the heads of the Ku Klux Klan.
“Wake me up when this nightmare ends.”
Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the European Research Group who was at the Chequers crisis talks, denied that the nickname was true, responding to Mr Osbourne’s tweet with “not for real”.
Dawn Butler, shadow equalities secretary, tweeted: “On the 212th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade and 7 days since The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination it’s remarkable that a group of senior Tories have allowed themselves to be named after leaders of the Klu Klux Klan.”
Ms Kuenssberg clarified her tweet shortly afterwards, adding: “just catching up on timeline, for avoidance of doubt, couple of insiders told me using the nickname informally, no intended connection to anything else.”
On Sunday, Mrs May held “lengthy” talks with prominent Brexiteer backbenchers including Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and David Davis to discuss whether there was sufficient support among MPs for another vote on her withdrawal deal.