NATIONAL: Calls for Big Ben to bong when UK leaves EU

Big Ben. Picture: Andrew Bowden
Big Ben. Picture: Andrew Bowden
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BIG Ben should bong Britain out of the European Union on the day of Brexit, Leave-backing Tory MPs have said.

Earlier this week, parliament said it would review plans to silence the Great Bell for four years for maintenance work to be carried out.

But the bongs will still be halted after midday on Monday so the work on the Elizabeth Tower and the clock and bell it houses can begin.

Earlier this year, Downing Street said Britain would leave the EU ‘when Big Ben bongs midnight’ on March 29, 2019 - the deadline for the two-year Article 50 withdrawal process.

But Commons authorities could not confirm when the chimes would start up again, or whether Big Ben would bong on Brexit day.

Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Daily Mail: ‘I think Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs as long as it doesn’t deafen the work force.

‘It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy.’

A Commons spokesman said they cannot confirm when chiming will resume.

He added: ‘On Monday, following the midday chimes, Big Ben’s bongs will temporarily cease.

‘We cannot yet give a confirmed date for when chiming will resume, however the intent is to maintain striking for important events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve.

‘The clock mechanism will continue to function for the immediate future, and we will aim to have at least one working clock face visible throughout the works.’

If the bell does not bong for four years, it would be the longest period Big Ben has been silenced in its 157-year history.

Parliamentary officials have insisted workers’ hearing would be put at ‘serious risk’ if the bell continued chiming.

The £29m renovation includes the installation of a lift and repairs to the clock’s hands, mechanism and pendulum.