Parliament refuses to accept crowdfunded money to make Big Ben bong for Brexit

PUBLISHED: 09:38 16 January 2020 | UPDATED: 09:39 16 January 2020

Mark Francois speaking in his office in the Houses of Parliament. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA.

Mark Francois speaking in his office in the Houses of Parliament. Photograph: Gareth Fuller/PA.

PA Archive/PA Images

Officials at the Houses of Parliament have thwarted Mark Francois and Boris Johnson’s bid to make Big Ben bong on January 31st - by refusing to accept public cash to pay for it.

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Boris Johnson had backed calls from hardline Brexiteers like Mark Francois to work to ensure the clock's bells ring out at 11pm on Brexit day.

Taxpayers' money had been ruled out to pay for the stunt, but Johnson proposed that the public instead crowdfund the cash.

But now according to The Sun officials at the Houses of Parliament said there is "no legal basis" to accept public donations.

They claim that any works carried out on parliament must come from the government themselves where there is accountability.

A House of Commons spokesperson told the newspaper: "There has been a suggestion that the cost of striking the Bell could be covered by donations made by the public. This would be an unprecedented approach.

"The House of Commons has well established means of voting through the expenditure required to allow it to function, and to preserve its constitutional position in relation to government.

"Any novel form of funding would need to be consistent with principles of propriety and proper oversight of public expenditure."

Tory MP Mark Francois said he would not be defeated by "bureaucratic refuseniks".

He said: "There is already considerable scepticism among MPs about the £500,000 cost which many feel has been deliberately exaggerated.

"In any event, if the British public raise half a million pounds in the next few days and these bureaucratic refuseniks still fail to comply, then I hope the government will pass a formal motion ordering them to do so."

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