MPs in fresh demand for Big Ben chime to mark Brexit 'freedom' day

Posted On: 
19th December 2019

More than 50 MPs have launched a campaign to get Big Ben to chime as Britain leaves the European Union on 31 January.

The Elizabeth Tower is currently undergoing refurbishment.

The group of Eurosceptics will table a motion in the House of Commons on Thursday spelling out the demand that the Big Ben bell, housed in Westminster's Elizabeth tower, ring out to mark Britain's exit.

The bell is currently silent to protect workers as the Palace of Westminster undergoes a multi-billion pound refurbishment, although it has chimed to mark Remembrance Sunday and will ring in the New Year. 

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However, The Telegraph reports that the team of Brexiteer backbenchers is pushing for a bong to sound at 11pm on 31 January, the date the UK is due to quit the EU if MPs back Boris Johnson's withdrawal deal.

The early day motion urges Commons authorities "to make arrangements to ensure that Big Ben will chime at 11pm [on January 31], to provide an appropriate national focus for this truly historic event."

The move comes after a previous request was turned down by the House of Commons Commission, chaired at the time by John Bercow.

Conservative MP Mark Francois told The Telegraph: "The fact that Speaker Bercow was not a fan of Brexit is not exactly a state secret, and this explains his deep reluctance to allow Big Ben to chime on exit day. 

"However, we are now in a new era, and it seems inconceivable to me and my colleagues that Big Ben would not form part of a national celebration to leave the EU. 

“If readers agree, then I would encourage them to email their own member of parliament to this effect to encourage them to join our campaign so that our national icon of Big Ben will chime to mark the fact that we are again a free country.”