Brexiteers had been resolute in their determination for Big Ben to ring out on Brexit day, but were left furious when the House Of Commons Commission effectively vetoed the plan last week. The iconic clock tower is currently silent for restoration work, and the cost of restoring it for one day is estimated at £500,000 – which prompted the Commission to refuse to sign off on the plan. But now it has emerged one of Boris Johnson’s cabinet ministers had been engaged in a plot to stop Big Ben from chiming several weeks ago.
The Mail on Sunday report that a senior minister had tried to kill off the plans to sound the clock, as the public campaign for Big Ben to bong began to gain traction.
The senior minister said: “We have to find a way of stopping this. It will be too divisive, Remainers will hate it.”
This is in stark contrast to the Prime Minister’s approach, who openly backed a public appeal to raise cash for the chimes when he suggested people “bung a bob for a Big Ben bong”.
But days later Mr Johnson had to backtrack on his appeal for funds, as Downing Street said there were “potential difficulties” in accepting public cash.
The move sparked an angry backlash from Brexiteers, especially those that had donated money to the crowdfunding page.
On Friday it was announced a clock face would be projected on the walls of Downing Street on Brexit night to count down the minutes to the UK’s exit from the EU.
Mr Johnson will also deliver an evening television address to the nation, hold a Cabinet in the north of England and ensure Parliament Square will be lined with union flags to mark leaving the European Union on January 31.
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