Mark Francois: I offered to ‘whack’ Big Ben for Brexit myself

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Mark Francois has said it is “inconceivable” that Big Ben will remain silent when Britain leaves the European Union at 11pm on January 31.

It comes after the House of Commons Commission ruled out sounding the iconic bell – which is undergoing refurbishment – to mark Brexit after it was revealed that it would cost £500,000.

The high cost is down to the need to install a temporary floor and restore the clapper.

The Conservative MP told talkRADIO he had jokingly come up with a way to reduce the cost.

“I offered to go up there with Bill Cash with a giant mallet and whack it myself and save the taxpayer half a million quid,” he told Mike Graham.

But meanwhile, Boris Johnson has said the government plans to get around the veto by setting up a crowdfunding initiative for the public to raise the money required.

The Prime Minister told BBC Breakfast: “The bongs cost £500,000 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.”

Mr Francois hailed the proposed scheme as “brilliant”.

He said: “This is an historic event, some people will want to celebrate it, some people won’t and for those who want to celebrate it I think they should be encouraged, allowed to do so.”

The former deputy chair of the ERG also argued that it could be a “moment of closure” for the nation that has been divided over the issue for the past few years.

Mr Francois concluded: “It seems inconceivable to me and many of my fellow MPs in the House of Commons that while we have the most iconic clock in the world, it’s a world heritage site, it’s going to stay silent on what is arguably one of the most historic days since the end of the Second World War.”

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