Boris Johnson urged to push for Commons vote so Big Ben will bong for Brexit

Mr Francois’ letter is a last-ditch attempt to secure the symbolic ringing of Big Ben, which, if campaigns are successful, would bong on Brexit Day - January 31, 2020. Ministers today rejected a plea to trigger a Commons vote which would attempt to force the House of Commons Commission to drop a refusal to allow the bell to sound at 11pm. Mr Francois said: “I think the Prime Minister in his initial calling for a crowd-funding campaign for this was well meaning, but he is now starting to look a bit like the Grand Old Duke of York.

“This has become such a mess that I will now be writing to the Prime Minister to suggest that he should table a motion so that MPs can debate all the arguments over costs and timings and then have a free vote in the Commons about whether or not to proceed.”

In its rejection of the Big Ben request, the House of Commons Commission cited the current work which is taking place on Elizabeth Tower, which houses the Big Ben bell.

Renovation work is set to cost up to £500,000, particularly to restore a floor which was taken out for maintenance.


MP Mark Francois started the 'Big Ben Bong' campaign (Image: Getty)


Big Ben is currently being renovated (Image: Getty)

The commission also stated it would not take public donations.

Various crowd-funding initiatives were sparked after the Prime Minister stated government funds would not go towards making the bell ring on Brexit Day.

Instead, in a statement which sparked a row last week, Mr Johnson suggested people could “bung a bob for a Brexit bong”.

READ MORE: Ann Widdecombe lashes out at Boris for disappointing Big Ben decision


The Elizabeth Tower houses the Big Ben bell (Image: Getty)

Mark Francois, who personally delivered the letter to Number 10 today, is the Deputy Chairman of the Eurosceptic and staunchly Brexiteer European Research Group (ERG), and a Conservative MP.

He was a critic of the leadership of Theresa May, and is a Brexit supporter.

Together, with the StandUp4Brexit group, he launched the principle crowd-funder to raise money for Big Ben to chime on Brexit day.

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Big Ben could bong to mark Brexit Day (Image: Getty)


Mr Francois delivered a letter to the PM to Downing Street today (Image: Getty)

Mr Francois hit out at the House of Commons commission a number of days ago, when he stated on BBC Breakfast there was “inflating” of the cost of ringing the bell taking place.

He said: “It was the Prime Minister that called for this on the BBC a few days ago when he said people should give a bob so Big Ben can bong for Brexit.

“I saw him say it. It’s the Prime Minister who called for this crowdfunding campaign, and we responded to his calls saying, you can’t ask the British public to pay for it, and three days later go, ‘Sorry! That’s not quite what I meant.’”


Facts surrounding Big Ben (Image: Daily Express)

Mr Francois also claimed it costs £14,200 to ring Big Ben on New Year’s Eve and Remembrance Sunday, and thus the commission had been “caught red-handed” by “inflating the cost”.

He also lashed out at those who support Britain remaining in the EU, stating they should “stay at home and watch Netflix” if they refuse to support the Brexit decision.

In an interview with Sky News, Mr Francois suggested that “if all else failed, we could play a recording of a Big Ben chime at 11pm.”

Britain is due to leave the European Union on January 31, 2020 at 11pm.


PM Boris Johnson has been petitioned to make Big Ben bong for Brexit (Image: Getty)

The date follows three years of intense negotiations across two Conservative premierships.

The figure of £500,000 originally quoted can be separated into two different costs.

It is estimated to cost £120,00 to bring back the bonging mechanism and installing a temporary floor.

Up to £400,000 could also be spent on delaying the conservation work to the Elizabeth Tower.

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