Mark Francois’ bid to get Big Ben ringing on Brexit day is scuppered

PUBLISHED: 14:38 07 January 2020 | UPDATED: 10:12 08 January 2020

Mark Francois. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

Mark Francois. Photograph: Kirsty O'Connor/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

The speaker has scuppered Mark Francois’ bid to get Big Ben to ring on Brexit day after failing to select his amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

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It will be a blow to prominent Tory Brexiteers who supported the calls including Nigel Evans, Desmond Swayne, John Redwood, Andrea Jenkyns, and Philip Davies.

Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage had also proposed his celebration party finishes with the chiming of Big Ben at 11pm.

Speaker Lindsay Hoyle had previously said he would not stand in the way of allowing Big Ben to ring on the day the UK leaves the EU, if MPs were to agree.

However the deputy speaker made a decision not to select the amendment for a vote in one of the last key stages of Boris Johnson's Brexit bill.

MORE: Remainers reveal what they will be doing at 11pm on 31st January

Elizabeth Tower is currently undergoing an expensive restoration project which has meant that Big Ben can only ring at special occasions - including New Year's Eve.

If approved it would have required a significant amount of testing - at a cost to taxpayers - before Big Ben would have been able to ring again.

The restoration project of Elizabeth Tower is already expected to exceed the £60 million that had been budgeted.

A separate bid by Nigel Farage to host a celebration in Parliament Square on January 31st will be debated by the Greater London Authority this week.

Acting Lib Dem leader Ed Davey called it a "nonsense" proposal that should be stopped.

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