Politics

Brexit day will be marked with laser and projected clock instead of Big Ben bong


Union flags will be flown from all the flag poles in Parliament Square on January 31 to mark Brexit day.

But a bid for Big Ben to bong at the moment Britain leaves the EU seemed doomed, despite raising more than £250,000 towards the cost.

But in a bid to ease Brexiteers’ disappointment, Boris Johnson announced plans for flags to be flown in Westminster, along with a light show on Downing Street.

A clock will be projected on the walls of Number 10, counting down to 11pm.

Earlier in the day, the PM will hold a cabinet meeting in the North of England, before returning to Downing Street to deliver a “special address.”

The Prime Minister’s deputy spokesman dodged questions on whether the PM had consulted Parliamentary authorities before urging the public to “bung a bob” for the bell to be rung.

An online whip-round has so far raised £229,000 in the hopes of paying for the enormous chime to be struck at 11pm on January 31.

More than 11,000 people – including Brexit bankroller Arron Banks and Tory MP Mark Francois – donated cash towards the estimated £500,000 cost.

Flags will be flown in Parliament square

But organisers StandUp4Brexit warned they would need to secure the money by the weekend if there was any hope of ringing the bell on January 31.

“We are confident of doing so but, if for any reason we fall short of the £500,000 target, the fund will be donated to Help for Heroes,” the crowdfunding page reads.

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The page also states a 2.9% payment processing charge plus a 25p fee applies to every transaction – meaning they would need to raise at least a further £17,500 on top of the £500,000 target.

The specially minted Brexit 50p will also come into circulation on January 31.

The Prime Minister is expected to be one of the first to receive the new coin on the day, which reads ‘Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations’.

Brexiteer Mark Francois

In October, thousands of coins had to be melted down and shredded because they bore the previous Halloween deadline, which Mr Johnson failed to achieve.

A million of the coins were minted with the earlier departure date – but the Treasury refused to say how much it would cost to melt them down.

The Elizabeth Tower, which holds the Great Bell known as Big Ben, is being restored.

The issue was discussed at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission on Monday. But the cost was estimated at £500,000 – so the idea was ditched.

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UK Politics explained

A temporary floor of the belfry would also need to be installed as “extensive work is currently taking place in this area.” The total costs of this would be £120,000.

But it would in turn push back the works by two to four weeks, and with delays costing £100,000 a week, the total cost would come to between £320,000 and £500,000.





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