Brexit-backing MPs chime in on Big Ben’s bong
Commons authorities could not confirm when the chimes would bong on Brexit day.
Big Ben should bong Britain out of the European Union on the day of Brexit, Leave-backing Tory MPs have said.
Earlier this week, Parliament said it would review plans to silence the Great Bell for four years for maintenance work to be carried out, after Theresa May joined a backlash against the move.
But the bongs will still be halted after noon on Monday so the work on the Elizabeth Tower and the clock and bell it houses can begin.
Earlier this year, Downing Street said Britain would leave the EU “when Big Ben bongs midnight” on March 29 2019, the deadline for the two-year Article 50 withdrawal process.
But Commons authorities could not confirm when the chimes would start up again, or whether Big Ben would bong on Brexit day.
Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Daily Mail: “I think Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs as long as it doesn’t deafen the work force. It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy.”
Party colleague Peter Bone said: “Big Ben should bong when we come out of the EU, absolutely.
“We are being liberated from the European Union superstate and Britain will again be a completely self-governing country. Where will the eyes of the world be? On Parliament and Big Ben. It would be very strange if at midnight on that day it does not chime out, very bizarre. It is the heart of our nation.”
And fellow Tory Andrew Bridgen added: “It would be very fitting if Big Ben was to chime us out of the EU. We need to go out with a boom as we regain a sovereign parliament once again.”
If the bell does not bong for four years, it would be the longest period Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history.
The 13.7-tonne Great Bell was last stopped for maintenance in 2007 and before that was halted for two years in 1983 for refurbishment, but has been stopped on a number of other occasions since it first sounded in 1859.
Parliamentary officials have insisted workers’ hearing would be put at “serious risk” if the bell continued chiming. They warned that those using the 100-metre-high scaffolding around the tower could also be startled by the 118-decibel bongs.
The £29 million renovation includes the installation of a lift and repairs to the clock’s hands, mechanism and pendulum.