Nigel Farage has accused the government of being “embarrassed” of the UK’s departure from the European Union after officials ruled out chiming Big Ben to mark the occasion.
The outgoing MEP told talkRADIO: “If the government wanted to celebrate Brexit, Big Ben would bong for Brexit but the government now appears to be embarrassed by Brexit, rather than wanting to celebrate it”.
“It’s almost as if ‘we told the electorate we believe in Brexit, they’ve all voted for us so isn’t that just great' – it is pathetic,” he added on Julia Hartley-Brewer’s breakfast show.
The House of Commons Commission said it was too expensive to sound a one-off bong of the iconic bell – which is undergoing major refurbishment – with the cost estimated at £500,000.
A crowdfunding effort set up online to meet the financial target and get Big Ben to “bong for Brexit” has raised around £220,000 in less than 2 days, with millionaire businessman Arron Banks and the Leave Means Leave campaign group donating £50,000 to the cause.
The page has received more than 10,000 donations
However, despite Boris Johnson first encouraging people to "bung a bob" for the bell to chime, Downing Street now appears to be distancing itself from the campaign, saying there are “potential problems” with accepting publicly raised funds.
Nevertheless, Mr Farage will be hosting a party in Parliament Square on January 31 and said a recording of a Big Ben clang would be played out of speakers at 11pm when Britain officially leaves the trading bloc.
The Brexit Party leader spent his last day in Brussels this week ahead of the exit, having served as an MEP for two decades.
He compared walking out of European Parliament to his last day of school and told Julia: “Politically, I achieved what I went there to do”.
The European Parliament confirmed that the Union flag which flies above the building will be lowered after Britain's exit and sent to the House of European History.
But a spokesman said there would not be a flag-lowering ceremony.
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