Ministers confirm only plans to mark Brexit will be a new 50p coin

PUBLISHED: 13:30 27 February 2019 | UPDATED: 14:02 27 February 2019

Ministers say Big Ben will not ring for Brexit. Photograph: Matt Crossick/EMPICS Entertainment.

Ministers say Big Ben will not ring for Brexit. Photograph: Matt Crossick/EMPICS Entertainment.

Matt Crossick/Empics Entertainment

Despite a commitment from Theresa May for a festival of Brexit Britain in 2021, the government has no plans to commemorate the UK’s departure from the EU on the planned exit day.

The government confirmed that no street parties, EU flag-lowering ceremonies or bongs from Big Ben have been planned.

Culture minister Michael Ellis has ruled out offering support for the UK to hold any events.

“There are no plans to make funding available for such events,” he said.

Commons leader Andrea Leadsom confirmed there are no plans for MPs to mark Brexit in the Commons on March 29 or 30.

She said: “There are currently no plans for the House to sit on either March 29 or 30. Any changes to the sitting hours of the House would need to be agreed by the House in the usual way.”

Cabinet Office minister David Lidington confirmed parliament’s famous bell Big Ben would not be ringing, as it does for the new year and other special occasions.

“There are currently no arrangements for Big Ben to chime to mark the UK’s departure from the EU,” he said.

Lidington also confirmed there were no plans for any ceremony involving the lowering of EU flags in or around Parliament Square.

He said: “We have no plans to seek to lower the EU flag on leaving the European Union, as it is already the case that the EU flag is not flown in Westminster or Whitehall.”

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The only official plans to mark the occasion appear to be the creation of a new 50p coin by the Royal Mint.

“It seems if Brexit does actually happen on March 29 this year, it will be a with a whimper, not a bang,” said the SNP’s Patrick Grady.

“There will be very little to celebrate when or if Brexit day finally arrives, but the news that there are no flag-lowering or any other official ceremonies planned will perhaps disappoint Brexiteers who are convinced a glorious new era of splendid isolation awaits the UK.

“There may be some champagne supped by elite members of the ERG, but I doubt there will be parties or rejoicing on the streets of towns and cities across the UK if the country crashes out with no deal, or even a version of the woeful deal negotiated by the PM.”

He continued: “Perhaps the real reason there are no plans for March 29 is because the Tory Government have known for some time that the date is completely unrealistic.

“The House of Commons has already ruled out no deal, and the prime minister has now conceded that it will need to have a formal opportunity to extend Article 50.

“Any extension period should include a People’s Vote so that now the true cost of Brexit is clear, people can choose to keep the deal we already have by remaining a member of the EU.”

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