Brexiteers Push for Big Ben to Bong on Brexit Day, BoJo Plans Celebration

A Union flag lies from a flagpole opposite the Elizabeth Tower, commonly reffered to as Big Ben, at the Houses of Parliament in central London on June 7, 2017. Britain on Wednesday headed into the final day of campaigning for a general election darkened and dominated by jihadist attacks in …
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

Brexiteer MPs have tabled an amendment to Boris Johnson’s Brexit bill requiring Big Ben to chime at 11 pm on January 31st, the hour that the UK officially leaves the EU.

Queen Elizabeth Tower, which holds Big Ben, is currently under renovation meaning the bells have been silent since 2017. As MPs return to the House of Commons after the Christmas break to discuss the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, Mark Francois and Nigel Evans have revealed that they are seeking support to pass an amendment to the bill to require the Westminster landmark to ring in the UK’s independence.

New Speaker of the House of Commons Lindsay Hoyle had told the Sunday Telegraph that if the House supports it, he would allow the bells to ring. Speaker Hoyle’s predecessor, the Remainer John Bercow, had blocked such attempts.

Mr Francois told The Telegraph: “I have tabled this new clause to the Brexit Bill to allow the House of Commons to vote on whether or not Big Ben should chime on exit day.

“Ultimately the selection of amendments is a matter for Mr Speaker, but given his remarks last week in which he said he was not minded to stand in the way of this if it were the will of the House, this amendment would provide the perfect vehicle for the house to express its will and I very much hope it will be selected and then passed into law.”

After December 12th’s general election delivered the Conservatives an 80-seat majority, Mr Johnson’s Brexit bill is expected to pass through both chambers of Parliament by the end of this month. Before the Christmas break, MPs had passed it at second reading with a comfortable 358 votes to 234. The bill will this week go through the Commons committee stage before going to the House of Lords for review.

Prime Minister Johnson looks set to accomplish what his predecessor, Theresa May, could not by passing a bill that will take the UK out of the EU by a pledged date and will kick-start the 11-month transition period, which Brussels and London will use as a period to agree on a future trade agreement.

The legislation includes the provision to make it illegal to extend the transition — or implementation — period beyond December 31st, 2020. Despite that clause and Mr Johnson’s majority, which is the largest Conservative majority since 1987, the Labour Party has tabled an amendment to force a two-year extension of the transition period unless the UK agrees to a new trade deal with the EU by June 2020.

Meanwhile, the prime minister is planning on a national celebration on Brexit Day — the news coming after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage announced that he was planning a party in Parliament Square.

Speaking to The Sun, the prime minister’s spokesman said: “In terms of our departure on 31 January, we will set out our plans shortly. It’s clearly a significant moment in our country’s history, but we will set all of our plans out shortly.”

A senior Whitehall source elaborated: “There’ll be something but I wouldn’t go down the road of a Farage-style street party.”

Mr Farage remarked on the report on Tuesday, saying: “This government is good at adopting our ideas. The public will be able to register for the Leave Means Leave event by the end of today.”

Speaking to talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer on Monday, the Brexit Party leader said of his 10,000-strong Brexit celebration plans: “Provided Boris Johnson holds true to his word, we will, during the course of this year, genuinely be a free independent country. I think that is worth celebrating.”

Saying that he has applied to the mayor of London for the licence under the Leave Means Leave organisation, Mr Farage said there would be a few speeches, music, and “it’ll be a genuine celebration”.

“It celebrates a victory for the little people, for ordinary people because the entire establishment just a few years ago did not even want to discuss Brexit. I remember a time when there wasn’t a single MP in the House of Commons who backed Brexit. Every big business, every trade union, all the press, everybody supported staying in the EU.

“This victory has really come because thousands of ordinary folks up and down this country campaigned four years and it is a remarkable thing. It just shows you that  if you live in a democracy, anything is possible.”


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