A row has erupted after John Major was branded a "traitor" for calling for a second Brexit referendum.
In an astonishing speech on Wednesday, the former Conservative Prime Minister waded into the debate to warn of the "terrible public backlash" Mrs May is risking if the UK is left poorer and weaker after leaving the EU.
He said the Government should make the "brave" decision to offer the free vote to "let Parliament decide, or put the issue back to the British people".
Staunch Brexiteer Nadine Dorries has sparked a backlash after she branded Sir John a traitor following the speech.
She tweeted a video of former PM Margaret Thatcher criticising the possibility of a single currency in Europe alongside the comment: “Body language of traitor Major sat next to her is revealing.”
Body language of traitor Major sat next to her is revealing. https://t.co/HNabKkr9dp— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) February 28, 2018
The MP wasn’t the only Brexiteer to attack Sir John, with Jacob Rees-Mogg telling the BBC: “We had a democratic vote and the decision has been taken. And what he is trying to do is overturn that.
“That’s the whole point of what he is saying and his speech is riddled with errors. It says things that are tendentious, bordering on the not factually accurate.”
Labour MP David Lammy hit back at Ms Dorries' criticism of Sir John writing: “Nadine I appreciate that we may disagree passionately on many things, but please as a minimum can we at least agree that it is unacceptable for Members of Parliament and indeed anybody to use the term ‘traitor’ when referring to somebody that they disagree with?”
If "traitor" becomes a term used to describe someone who opposes the current government viewpoint or policy at a particular point in time this is not just debasement of our politics and public life but would mean our democracy is in big trouble. Modern history tells us that. https://t.co/1ZjQoEPaMK— David Lammy (@DavidLammy) March 1, 2018
Tory Remainer Anna Soubry shared her support for Sir John's speech, writing: "Seems #HardBrexiteers are playing the man #SirJohnMajor not the ball. No surprise. They know he’s right. #Brexit was won on tricks & lies.
"It’s failing to deliver & on any analysis all options will make us less well off. Email your MP demand #FinalSay Damn it #takebackcontrol!"
She also retweeted former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell who said: "This is the best speech John Major ever made. Should be required reading for all. Especially MPs."
Another Twitter user wrote: “He was arguing for Parliament to have a free vote on Brexit - that means you. This is an odd form of treason.”
He was arguing for Parliament to have a free vote on Brexit - that means you. This is an odd form of treason.— Tim Neale (@timjn1) February 28, 2018
Another said: “I thought the Conservatives had pledged to end abuse of political opponents? Your use of the word “traitor” is disgraceful and unbecoming of an elected representative.”
I thought the Conservatives had pledged to end abuse of political opponents? Your use of the word “traitor” is disgraceful and unbecoming of an elected representative.— beefqueen (@beefqueen) February 28, 2018
One person added: "What kind of MP calls a former Prime Minister a Traitor simply because he eloquently pointed out the dangers of a poorly planned policy?"
Amid a string of angry tweets about the speech, Ms Dorries later posted the definition of the word ‘traitor’, adding: “Last one. For those yelling at me for calling Major a traitor and telling me to look it up. I have. He is. He’s betraying the PM and the gov mandate from the people – at the very least.”
Nick Clegg and David Miliband also praised Sir Jon's intervention.