Mark Francois’ claim that he can raise £500,000 in 48 hours fails to materialise

PUBLISHED: 08:26 17 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:26 17 January 2020

Mark Francois appears on Good Morning Britain. Photograph: ITV.

Mark Francois appears on Good Morning Britain. Photograph: ITV.

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Mark Francois’ claim that he can raise £500,000 ‘within 48 hours’ to help make Big Ben bong has failed to materialise.

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Francois, who has pledged £1,000 of his own money, has so far only managed to raise £153,000 of its £500,000 target by Friday morning despite claiming he could hit the target "within 48 hours".

The Stand Up 4 Brexit's "Big Ben must bong for Brexit" had been shared more than 25,000 times online, according to the page, but only resulted in 10,000 donors.

Those who wish to celebrate Britain leaving the EU will want to do so in the same manner as New Year's Eve - by looking at a clock, the campaign's organisers wrote online.

"The natural choice for this would be Big Ben but because it is currently undergoing refurbishment, special measures would have to be put in place, which could cost up to £500,000," a statement by StandUp4Brexit founder Rebecca Ryan and Mark Francois MP added.

"However, because there is a lead time to make the necessary preparations, we would need to raise this amount by this weekend."

Francois had earlier accused the House of Commons authorities of exaggerating the cost of bringing the bell - which has been silent since 2017 - back into operation.

In a video posted on the fundraising site, Francois said he is "delighted to announce that our Eurosceptic colleagues from StandUp4Brexit have agreed to host a crowdfunding campaign to help raise half a million pounds so that Big Ben can chime at 11pm on the 31st of January".

He added that the campaign hopes to get contributions "from across the four nations of the United Kingdom, what the Prime Minister likes to call the 'awesome foursome"'.

Francois said it is "inconceivable" that the clock used to mark the UK's departure from the EU "could be any other than the most iconic timepiece on Earth, which is Big Ben".

He finished his appeal by saying "please give an amount an amount on this website now so we can properly celebrate becoming a free country again".

Donations to the campaign include £1,000 from Francois, while business secretary Andrea Leadsom promised £10.

There were also small donations from "Dominic Grieve", "Jeremy Corbyn" and "John Bercow" but these were all thought likely to be fake names.

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