Big Ben WON’T ring out to mark Brexit day despite plea from Leadsom

‘They are pretending we’re not leaving’: Fury as Commons committee chaired by John Bercow decides Big Ben WON’T ring out to mark Brexit day despite plea from Andrea Leadsom

  • Commons commission has made clear Big Ben will not sound to mark Brexit day
  • Decision comes despite protests from Brexiteer MPs who say the bell should ring
  • Clock is being restored but will sound at New Year and for Remembrance Sunday
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Brexiteers voiced anger today after the Commons authorities ruled that Big Ben will not ring out to mark Britain’s departure from the EU.

The House commission, chaired by Speaker John Bercow, has made clear the famous bongs will not sound to mark the historic event on March 29 next year.

The decision comes despite a plea from Commons Leader Andrea Leadsom, who had argued that parliament’s bell should ‘absolutely’ peal as a ‘celebration’ of the historic moment.

Tory MPs told MailOnline it showed the ‘Remain element’ at parliament were ‘in denial’ about leaving the EU.  


The Great Clock at Westminster has been undergoing a major £60million restoration project

The Great Clock at Westminster has been undergoing a major £60million restoration project.

The familiar bongs are due to be silent on a day-to-day basis for years because of fears they could damage workers’ hearing.

However, there have been a wave of protests from MPs who want Big Ben to sound as a symbol of Britain’s independence from the EU.

The government has previously stressed that it is for the parliamentary authorities to say whether the bell is sounded.

WHEN WILL BRITAIN BE OUT OF THE EU?

Britain triggered Article 50 on March 29, 2017, starting a two year process for leaving the EU: 

March 2018: Outline transition deal agreed, running for about two years

June 2018: EU summit that Brussels says should consider broad principles of a future trade deal. 

October 2018: Political agreement on the future partnership due to be reached

Early 2019: Major votes in Westminster and Brussels to ratify the deal 

March 29, 2019: Article 50 expires, Britain leaves the EU. Transition is expected to keep everything the same for about two years

December 31, 2020: Transition expected to come to an end and the new relationship – if it has been agreed – should kick in 

But minutes from a Commons commission meeting last week make clear there will be no bongs on March 29. The committee agreed that ‘during the Elizabeth Tower refurbishment project, Big Ben should sound for Remembrance Sunday, Armistice Day and over the New Year’.

Mrs Leadsom, who is a member of the committee, is understood to have been disappointed at the decision – which came after the Administration Committee considered the issue. 

However, she was unable to sway the rest of the committee. It is chaired by Mr Bercow, with whom she has clashed repeatedly over the handling of government business. Other members include Labour’s Valerie Vaz and Rosie Winterton, and the SNP’s Stuart Hosie.

Senior Tory MP Nigel Evans told MailOnline: ‘It is the Remain element within Parliament which has now decided that the UK cannot mark this significant milestone in our history by sounding Big Ben. 

‘It is hugely disappointing. We know that for a number of them they would prefer to stay in the EU.

‘There were commemorations for joining. There should be commemorations for leaving. 

‘This is people pretending we are not leaving. Well we are.’

Fellow Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said the decision showed the processes at Westminster were flawed.

‘It just shows the Commons authorities have no imagination,’ he said.

‘We will still leave the EU whether Big Ben bongs or not.’  

But Eloise Todd, chief executive of anti-Brexit campaign Best for Britain, said: ‘First it was stamps, then a bank holiday, then a new Brexit Britainnia, then a plane and now Big Ben’s bongs. 

‘If these MPs actually concentrated on Brexit rather than rubbish like this then maybe we wouldn’t be in this car-crash situation.

‘For whom the bell tolls might be joyful for a couple of a Brexiteers, the political version of the flat earth society but Brexit, for others, means economic uncertainty and being poorer. That is not something I want to herald with bells.’ 

A House of Commons spokesman said: ‘As previously announced, during refurbishment works Parliament’s specialist clock makers will ensure that Big Ben will still strike for important national events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.’ 


Andrea Leadsom (pictured in the Commons this week) is understood to have been disappointed at the decision


Speaker John Bercow chairs the Commons commission, which signed off the decision on when the bell should sound


During the restoration project the familiar Big Ben bongs are due to be silent on a day-to-day basis for years because of fears they could damage workers’ hearing

In March Mrs Leadsom told the Telegraph that the bell should ‘absolutely be sounded.

‘The actual Brexit day will be a huge celebration as far as I am concerned. If you are going to ask me whether Big Ben’s bongs are going to chime, I say ‘absolutely in my view’.

‘I think it is a cause for celebration.’ 

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