Tory MP Mark Francois pledges £1,000 to get Big Ben bonging on Brexit day

Written by Total Politics Staff on 14 January 2020 in Diary
Diary

Leading Brexiteer Mark Francois has stumped up £1,000 to back the campaign to get Big Ben bonging on Brexit day.

The prominent Tory MP has pledged a grand of his own cash to help cover the estimated £500,000 cost for getting the infamous bell to chime at 11pm on 31 January.

Big Ben, which is currently undergoing a £61m renovation, has only bonged during significant moments, such as New Year and Remembrance Sunday.

But swathes of Eurosceptic MPs have demanded the national symbol be used to mark the moment the UK formally exits the EU, suggesting they would support a crowd funding effort to cover the £500,000 cost.

Speaking on Tuesday, Boris Johnson suggested the public should "bung a bob" to raise the cash, after the House of Commons Commission rejected the idea earlier this week on the basis of the cost.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who chairs the Commission, said restoring the bell's mechanism and running the tests ahead of the event would mean the average cost for the event would be around £50,000 a bong.

But the PM said he was "working up a plan" to raise the cash, adding: "We need to restore the clapper, in order to bong Big Ben on Brexit night, and that is expensive".

The eye-watering figure has done little to dampen spirits with a range of pro-Brexit figures willing to back the campaign, with Mark Francois reportedly suggesting he was willing to climb the tower with a hammer and bong the bell himself.

Meanwhile, Tory donor Lord Ashcroft suggested he would be willing to match public donations, tweeting: "To the 60 MPs... if that's the cost let's crowdfund and I'll underwrite its success..."

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