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.
But despite the revolt, the measure passed through Parliament easily during the first day of debate over whether to amend the EU Withdrawal Bill.
A host of MPs (and many others) were quick to condemn the Daily Telegraph for branding Brexit rebels "mutineers" on its front page.
Another, Anna Soubry, said it was a "blatant piece of bullying" and insisted none of those named wanted to delay or thwart Brexit.
Even ardent Brexiteers quickly sought distance from the paper's coverage with Brexit minister Steve Baker stating that "I regret any media attempts to divide our party" and Dominic Raab signalling his agreement.
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Clarke labelled the proposal to include an exit date in the European Union withdrawal bill of 11pm on 29 March 2019 as "ridiculous and unnecessary", adding: "It could be positively harmful to the national interest".
Grieve told MPs that no amount of "arm twisting" would make him vote for the amendment, which was debated but will not be voted upon until next month at the earliest.
Another potential rebel, Jonathan Djanogly, tweeted "to me this is about upholding our constitution and negotiating position", and Bob Neill said "the bullies will not succeed", adding: "We will continue to work constructively for the best Brexit possible - that's our duty - and what parliamentary democracy is all about".
He said: "I have to say I find this amendment by the government so very odd, because it seems to me to fetter the government, to add nothing to the strength of the government's negotiating position, and in fact potentially to create a very great problem that could be brought back to visit on us at a later stage".
Labour's shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said setting a date in law was a "desperate gimmick" that was "about party management, not the national interest".