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    <p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Plans for Big Ben to bong the UK out of the European Union descended into farce last night.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Just two days after Boris Johnson backed the idea of the bell ringing at 11pm on January 31st and called for public donations to cover the cost, Downing Street admitted defeat.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Senior government sources blamed ‘intransigence’ by the House of Commons authorities who have raised a string of objections – and claimed the cost of bringing the bell out of mothballs could be £500,000.</p><div class=”artSplitter mol-img-group” style=”style”> <div class=”mol-img”> <div class=”image-wrap”> Andrea Leadsom, pictured, today announced she had donated £10 to the online appeal to pay for Big Ben's bongs to sound on January 31 at 11pm </div> <noscript> Andrea Leadsom, pictured, today announced she had donated £10 to the online appeal to pay for Big Ben's bongs to sound on January 31 at 11pm </noscript> </div> <p class=”imageCaption”>Andrea Leadsom, pictured, today announced she had donated £10 to the online appeal to pay for Big Ben’s bongs to sound on January 31 at 11pm</p></div><div class=”artSplitter mol-img-group” style=”style”> <div class=”mol-img”> <div class=”image-wrap”> Conservative MP Mark Francois is angry Big Ben will not bong on Brexit day. He said he would pay £1,000 towards the £500,000 cost of sounding the bell at 11pm on January 31 </div> <noscript> Conservative MP Mark Francois is angry Big Ben will not bong on Brexit day. He said he would pay £1,000 towards the £500,000 cost of sounding the bell at 11pm on January 31 </noscript> </div> <p class=”imageCaption”>Conservative MP Mark Francois is angry Big Ben will not bong on Brexit day.

    He said he would pay £1,000 towards the £500,000 cost of sounding the bell at 11pm on January 31</p></div><div class=”moduleFull mol-video”><div><div itemprop=”video” itemscope=”itemscope” website content=”Mark Francois: Public should pay for Brexit day Big Ben bongs” itemprop=”name” /><meta content=”PT00M46S” itemprop=”duration” /><meta website itemprop=”thumbnailUrl” /><meta website itemprop=”contentURL” /><meta content=”2020-01-14T18:34:50+0000″ itemprop=”uploadDate” /><meta content=”576″ itemprop=”height” /><meta content=”1024″ itemprop=”width” /><meta content=”Mark Francois MP has encouraged the public to help fund Brexit day’s Big Ben bongs, and says he will put in some of his own money to reach the half-a-million pounds required to make Big Ben ring.” itemprop=”description” /><div class=”item”> <div class=”vjs-video-container vjs-fixed vjs-span-two-col news” id=”v-5897792677677976107″> <video controls=”” class=”video-js vjs-default-skin” website Francois: Public should pay for Brexit day Big Ben website Francois MP has encouraged the public to help fund Brexit day’s Big Ben bongs, and says he will put in some of his own money to reach the half-a-million pounds required to make Big Ben ring.website preload=”none”> <source website type=”video/mp4″></source> </video> </div> </div> </div></div></div><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>The announcement sparked fury from Tory MPs behind a fundraising campaign which had raised more than £120,000 in less than a day.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>On Tuesday Mr Johnson said he could not justify using taxpayers’ money to restore the bell for one night and suggested the public could ‘bung a bob for a Big Ben Bong’.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>More than 9,000 people have donated cash, including Business Secretary Andrea Leadsom who handed over £10.

    She wrote on Twitter: ‘I admit I’ve donated a tenner. #LoveBigBen. The Big Ben must bong for Brexit campaign.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Former party leader Iain Duncan Smith condemned the House of Commons Commission and urged Mr Johnson to stop ‘sitting on the fence’.</p><div><div data-track-module=”am-related_carousel^related_carousel” data-track-selector=”.rotator-panels a:not([class*=external])” data-dm-rotator-rotate=”false” data-track-pos=”static” data-preferred-shared-network-enabled=”” data-dm-rotator-auto-init=”” id=”p-23″ class=”related-carousel with-fb-or-tw news half” data-dm-rotator-active-class=”active” data-dm-rotator-page-count=”1.0″ data-dm-social-article-auto-init=”” data-dm-rotator-page-size=”1″> <div class=”rotator bdrcc”> <div class=”rotator-title”> <h2>RELATED ARTICLES</h2> <ul class=”rotator-pages link-xocc”> <li class=”rotator-prev”>Previous

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    </div> </div><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘On the eve of the single biggest change that Britain will undergo – arguably since the end of the Second World War – the House of Commons Commission, it appears, is determined to leave Big Ben mute.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘This bell has rung out at all the critical moments in our nation’s modern history.

    But that it should be silenced now verges on the absurd.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘Somehow they managed to find time to clang the bell to welcome in the New Year which is of far less significance. They must rethink this and allow that bell to ring.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>He added: ‘I urge Downing Street to make a clear statement that the Prime Minister and the Cabinet want Big Ben to signal the moment when our great country officially leaves the EU.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Former defence minister Mark Francois, who has pledged £1,000 of his own money, said the PM would be ‘mad’ to back down.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘As the Prime Minister effectively initiated this campaign live on TV two days ago and as we are clearly going to hit the target, he would be mad to back away from it.'</p><div class=”mol-img-group floatRHS” style=”style”> <div class=”mol-img”> <div class=”image-wrap”> House of Commons officials claimed it would cost £500,000 to temporarily bring back the bell for one evening </div> <noscript> House of Commons officials claimed it would cost £500,000 to temporarily bring back the bell for one evening </noscript> </div> <p class=”imageCaption”>House of Commons officials claimed it would cost £500,000 to temporarily bring back the bell for one evening</p></div><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Yesterday the Daily Mail reported Downing Street sources saying the idea of restoring the bell for January 31st was ‘dead’, and Mr Johnson’s spokesman appeared to confirm the news, pointing the finger of blame at the Commons authorities.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘The House of Commons authorities have set out that there may be potential difficulties in accepting money from public donations,’ he said.

    ‘I think the PM’s focus is on the events which he and the Government are planning to mark January 31.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>A Government source blamed the ‘intransigence’ of Commons officials, saying: ‘We went to the House authorities saying “how can we make this happen?” and they came back with a whole series of unhelpful comments.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘It’s very difficult for us to say to people they should contribute money when the whole thing might still be turned down by Parliament.

    If they do raise the half a million pounds then the Commons authorities are going to have a very big decision to make.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle, who is chairman of the commission, set himself firmly against the idea saying the cost would be ‘£50,000 a bong’ – and argued only people who live in Westminster would get to hear the bell.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Officials also warned of the legal and ethical problems of accepting public donations, calling it ‘unprecedented’.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>The extraordinary cost is made up of £120,000 to reinstall and test the temporary ‘bonging’ mechanism.

    That also includes the cost of building a temporary floor in the belfry and then removing it again. They also said the Brexit bongs would delay renovations by up to four weeks at a cost of £100,000 per week.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Last night another Commons source said No10 could have pushed the issue by forcing a vote in Parliament.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘The issue came up before the Commission and it was explained the cost and delay involved to the restoration of Big Ben and the Tower.

    If the Government really wanted it they could put forward some sort of motion and they could vote on it. That would overrule the commission.'</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>The appeal, run by the Stand Up 4 Brexit campaign, launched on Wedneday morning on the GoFundMe website and by last night 9,000 donors had handed over £140,0000 towards the £500,000 target.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>Writing on the site, one donor told the PM to ‘get it done’.</p><p class=”mol-para-with-font”>‘I find it unbelievable that this wasn’t arranged ahead of time and at reasonable expense just like it has been with every other significant event.

    <i><u>Just get it done!’  </p><div class=”moduleFull mol-video”></div></div></u></i>
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