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Dublin: 12 °C Friday 28 February, 2020

Boris Johnson's call to 'bung a bob for Big Ben bong' fails to gather funds

It would cost half a million pounds to make Big Ben ring on 31 January.

britain-brexit-big-ben Source: Alastair Grant

SENIOR TORIES ARE being asked whether they want “Big Ben to bong” at 11pm on 31 January to mark the UK’s exit from the European Union.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Iain Duncan Smith this morning confirmed they back Leave campaigners’ “Bells for Brexit” proposal.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage told LBC that if Big Ben doesn’t strike at 11pm, “our country looks like a joke”.

He also said: “I have put in an application through Leave Means Leave to book Parliament Square for the evening, to put up some staging, to have some singing, to have some music, to have some speeches.

“I’ve also applied to have some fireworks, which has been refused point blank.”

Yesterday morning, Boris Johnson said that the problem with the proposal is it would cost £500,000 to make Big Ben ring on the day. His official spokesman insisted that Brexit would be properly marked, but said there was not a specific government fund.

This morning, there were around 25 active pages on the crowdfunding website GoFundMe attempting to raise cash for the “Big Ben bong”. But the majority had received no donations at all, and the most successful page so far had only attracted £220.

Go Fund Me Big Ben Source: GoFundMe

Big Ben bong 2 Source: GoFundMe

Big Ben bong 3 Source: GoFundMe

The iconic clock tower hasn’t rang since 2017 due to extensive restoration works being carried out, and which aren’t due to be completed for several years.

“But we’re working up a plan so that people can ‘Bung a bob for a Big Ben bong’,” Johnson said.

Johnson said that during the refurbishment, the clapper of the bell was taken away, !so we need to restore the clapper in order to bong Big Ben on Brexit night.”

Meanwhile, The Times reports that a group representing Britain’s bell-ringers are opposed to the idea, as they wish to remain apolitical. Bishops and vicars back that stance, according to the paper.

No official funding plan

Restoring the bell was discussed at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission on Monday, but it was ultimately ruled out after it was revealed that it could cost £500,000.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who is chairman of the Commission, said they believed “it is important to weigh up the costs”.

“We also have to bear in mind that the only people who will hear it will be those who live near or are visiting Westminster,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Leave.EU campaign has called for churches across the nation to echo their reaction to the Allies’ victory against the Nazis in the Second World War.

“Whichever way you look at it, February 1 will be the most momentous morning in British history since the glorious day in 1945 when our country celebrated victory over the Nazi regime in Germany,” the group said.

But the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers declined to give its backing.

“There are historical moments for which bells have been rung – end of world wars for example. In 2018 the Central Council worked with the Government on a recruitment and awareness campaign to recognise 100 years since WW1 Armistice,” a spokeswoman said.

“However the Central Council, as a principle, does not endorse bell ringing for political reasons. Individual towers have discretion to ring for such occasions but is on a case-by-case basis and typically needs permission from the incumbent.”

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