Countdown clock to illuminate Downing Street on Brexit Day

Clay Curtis
January 18, 2020

Pro-Brexit MP Mark Francois, from Johnson's Conservative party, said it was "inconceivable" that the most iconic clock in the world was not used to mark such a moment.

A Brexiteer Tory has predicted that the £500,000 needed to get Big Ben to ring for Brexit will be raised within days.

Mr Johnson will kick off the Government programme for marking Brexit Day with a Cabinet meeting held in the North of England to highlight his vision of spreading prosperity and opportunity around the entire United Kingdom after quitting the EU.

Government buildings on Whitehall will also be lit up for the occasion, and Johnson will deliver a televised address to mark the moment.

Mr Johnson is expected to be one of the first people to receive one of the newly-minted 50p coins, which will bear the motto "peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations".

Officials said the Government wanted to mark what will be "a significant moment in our history" without a triumphalist tone that could exacerbate the divisions between Remain and Leave supporters.

However, it is not certain whether Big Ben - which is now out of action due to renovation work going on at the Houses of Parliament - will chime to mark the moment the United Kingdom leaves the EU. The House of Commons Commission said Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2020 that because the clock mechanism has been dismantled and the belfry is now getting a new floor, arranging for the bell to ring "could result in huge costs to the public purse".

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It says this would involve bringing back the chiming mechanism and installing a temporary floor, and delays to the conservation work.

An appeal by the Stand Up 4 Brexit campaign had raised more than £80,000 by Thursday afternoon, while other smaller fundraising drives were also listed on the GoFundMe website.

Mr Francois claimed on Friday that millionaire businessman Arron Banks and the Leave Means Leave campaign group have donated £50,000 towards the bid.

He queried whether the cost of getting the bell to ring again was really £500,000, adding that he believed officials had "deliberately inflated the figure" because "they don't want to do it".

He said the lack of support for the campaign was a "very worrying sign", and said: "I can see us being mocked all over the world: "Britain leaves the European Union and they can't even get a clock to ring".

So far the number of applicants to the scheme has hit more than 2.7 million.

Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to become the first nation to leave the 28-nation European Union bloc, but the process has moved more slowly than expected.

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