Boris Johnson has announced the Government will run a crowdfunding campaign to raise money for Big Ben to bong at 11pm on January 31 to celebrate the UK’s exit from the EU.
Mr Johnson said the public should be able to “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong” by contributing to the £500,000 cost of a one-off chime while the tower that houses the bell undergoes restoration works.
The Prime Minister’s intervention in the campaign by Eurosceptic backbenchers for the bell to chime is the latest in a long-running saga that stretches back to John Bercow’s tenure as Speaker.
The 13.7-tonne bell has been largely silent since 2017 while renovation works are carried out on the Elizabeth Tower which houses it, sounding only for important events such as New Year’s Eve celebrations.
Mr Johnson spoke after a House of Commons Commission yesterday dismissed the proposal for the bell to sound, after MPs were informed that costs had soared to half a million from an original estimate of £120,000.
One Tory Brexiteer MP, Mark Francois, pledged £1,000 to the campaign on Tuesday morning.
Mr Francois said: ‘I’ve already offered to go up Big Ben myself, ably assisted by Bill Cash, to ring the bell myself to save money.
‘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.’