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Bong-kers? Londoners react to Boris Johnson’s plan to ring Big Ben for Brexit

Aliss Higham
Friday 17 January, 14.00

London residents have branded Boris Johnson’s plans to get Big Ben to ‘bong’ on the day the UK leaves the EU as ‘utterly pathetic’.

The push to get the British public to chip in for a ceremonial ring to mark the official start of Brexit has been met with a mixture of bewilderment and anger.

Clapham resident Harrison Illingworth, 24, said: “I’m honestly sick of hearing about Brexit, it’s been going on for so long now and there’s a multitude of other larger issues within the UK that aren’t being given the attention they deserve.

“We have a huge homelessness problem, our education system is suffering and our healthcare is in danger. Yet, they want to raise money for a bell chime. It’s utterly pathetic.”

The Prime Minister’s proposal came after the StandUp4Brexit’s ‘Big Ben must bong for Brexit’ campaign started this week.

Boris Johnson announced the plan on BBC Breakfast, saying that the government was ‘working up a plan so people can bung-a-bob for a Big Ben bong’.

However he was forced to make a U-turn when the House of Commons Commission roadblocked the plan, outlining that any funding would need to be consistent with ‘principles of propriety and proper oversight of public expenditure’. 

The Commission also said that donations raised through the campaign could not be accepted.

Rosie Parry, 24, from Lewisham, said: “I suggest Boris Johnson applies the same snappy style of policy naming to other Tory projects.

“How about ‘charlatan cabinet cruelly curtails support for child refugees’?”

More than £110,000 had been raised by Thursday afternoon, with one of the largest single contributions coming from Tory MP Mark Francois, who donated £1,000.

In an official statement for the campaign, he said: “If you believe this historic moment in our island’s story should be marked by the chimes of the most famous clock in the world, please give now so we can properly celebrate becoming a free country again!”

The clock is currently out of action due to renovation works.

Pro Brexit groups have refused to let the Commission’s decision get in the way of planning celebrations for the event.

Leave.EU has set out a recruitment drive for bell ringers across the UK who would defy church law, which states that only priests can decide when church bells ring.

The UK is due to leave the EU at 11:30pm on January 31.

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