Mark Francois compares Boris Johnson to ‘grand old Duke of York’ over Big Ben crowdfunder

PUBLISHED: 09:00 20 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:00 20 January 2020

Mark Francois speaks on LBC Radio. Photograph: LBC/Global.

Mark Francois speaks on LBC Radio. Photograph: LBC/Global.

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A frustrated Brexiteer MP has compared Boris Johnson to the ‘grand old Duke of York’ for signalling support for a Big Ben crowdfunder - only to distance himself from it hours later.

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Francois is now calling for MPs to have a vote in the House of Commons to decide in the coming days whether to proceed with Big Ben chiming at 11pm on January 31st to mark Brexit or not, based on the "costs and timings".

In a video he claimed he had seen with his very own eyes Johnson say he supported a crowdfunding campaign to raise the money, and it had already raised £260,000 towards the £500,000 costs.

Impersonating Boris Johnson, he said: "It was the prime minister who called for this on the BBC when he said people should 'bung a bong so Big Ben could bong for Brexit'.

"I saw him say it, so it is the prime minister who called for this campaign, and we responded to his calls, so you can't on the one hand ask the British public to pay for it.

"And then three days later say 'oops, sorry that is not quite what I meant'."

He continued: "Secondly, he doesn't own Big Ben. Big Ben is like the nation's clock, it doesn't belong to the prime minister, it doesn't belong to the government. It belongs to the nation.

"But MPs - because it's in Westminster - we are effectively its guardian. So what must happen now is there has been so much arguing over this, the only way settle this is for MPs to vote on it.

"I believe that there are mechanisms by which such a vote could take place early next week."

In a comment for the Express he said that Boris Johnson was "now starting to look a bit like the Grand Old Duke of York".

He said: "This has become such a mess that I will now be writing to the prime minister to suggest that he should table a motion so that MPs can debate all the arguments over costs and timings and then have a free vote in the Commons about whether or not to proceed."

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