Boris Johnson wants Brits to crowdfund £500,000 to bong Big Ben on Brexit night

Boris Johnson has called on Brits to crowdfund up to £500,000 so Big Ben can bong at the moment of Brexit .

The Prime Minister revealed he is drawing up plans to "bung a bob" for Parliament's famous bell to ring out at 11pm on January 31.

Scores of Tory MPs have been calling for the bell to toll to celebrate the moment Britain legally becomes the first nation to leave the EU.

But so far no plan has been revealed because the Elizabeth Tower, which holds the Great Bell known as Big Ben, is being restored.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission on Monday.

But one source told the Daily Telegraph the cost was estimated at £500,000 – so the idea was ditched.

In an interview with BBC Breakfast today, Boris Johnson said the Government was working up a plan to fund the costs.

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"The bongs cost £500,000," he said.

"But we're working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong because there are some people who want to.

"Because Big Ben is being refurbished, they seem to have taken the clapper away, so we need to restore the clapper in order to bong Big Ben on Brexit night.

"And that is expensive, so we're looking at whether the public can fund it."

The plans prompted instant mockery today from rival MPs.

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SNP MP Stewart McDonald said: "A ‘global Britain’ that has to run a crowdfunder to ring the bells of its most famous clock tower. We really are through the looking glass."

Fellow SNP MP Neil Gray added: "The obsession with Big Ben chiming for Brexit really highlights the shallowness of the Vote Leave campaign.

"Big Ben to bong (thanks to public subscription), but no guarantee for EU nationals, no guarantee on Erasmus and a power grab from the devolved settlement. Priorities."

The 315ft, Grade I listed Elizabeth Tower that holds the bell and clock face is undergoing a £61m restoration in which costs have more than doubled.

It has previously chimed for Remembrance Sunday and New Year's Eve.

But the special chiming needs two days of rehearsal and testing each time, and even more time in preparation.

Even if it was reconnected, only the ominous low E 'dong' of the 13.7-tonne, 1859 Great Bell would ring out – not the musical 'quarter bells' which make up the clock's famous chime.

The bell was disconnected in 2017 to protect the hearing of workers restoring the tower.

Yet Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois claimed he and fellow Brexit ultra Bill Cash could go up the tower with a hammer and "bong" the bell themsleves.

He added: "If all else fails, the BBC must have a recording of Big Ben chiming they could play at 11pm at no cost whatsoever to taxpayers."

Elsewhere in his BBC Breakfast interview, the Prime Minister reveals he couldn't do 'Veganuary' because he loves cheese too much – and it'd be a "crime" to give it up.

"I had thought of it but it requires so much concentration," he told BBC Breakfast.

"I take my hat off to vegans who can handle it, who can manage to avoid all the non-vegan products, but… you can't eat cheese can you, if you're a vegan?

"It's just a crime against cheese lovers."

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