London Nigel Farage was outraged again. Brexit is embarrassing to the government, the founder of the Brexit party scolded this week. Therefore, she did not want to celebrate the departure on January 31. "If Big Ben doesn't strike at 11 p.m., our country will be mocked all over the world," warned Farage.
For days there has been debate in London's government district as to whether the famous bell in Westminster Palace should honor the historic moment on Brexit Night. That would involve some effort because the bell tower is currently being renovated. The emotions were high, and the question of whether Big Ben was beating or not has become the latest question of faith in the country.
Passionate Brexit fans encounter cool computers in the dispute. At times like this, people wanted to look at a big clock and hear bells, argues conservative MP Mark Francois, the leader of the Big Ben Brigade. The lower house speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, argues that only the residents would hear the ringing. The question is whether the effort is justified.
The clock tower, the London landmark, has been under renovation since 2017. On January 2, workers removed the floor under the bell. To get Big Ben, the 13.7 ton bell, to ring again, a provisional floor would have to be drawn in. The bell drive would also have to be reinstalled separately.
This would cost £ 120,000, according to the administration of parliament. This would add £ 100,000 a week to interrupt the renovation. The Brexit break could delay work for up to four weeks.
Ringing the bell too expensive
The parliamentary administration has come to the conclusion that the Brexit ringing would be too expensive. Big Ben should remain silent. It was agreed that the money could be used more sensibly elsewhere. Some Brexit supporters doubt the numbers and sense a conspiracy by EU friends in the administration. The bell finally rang on New Year's Eve, Nick Ferrari, radio presenter at London's LBC, says. "Why didn't they just leave the floor in two weeks ago?"
The Brexiteers do not want to be satisfied with the no of the administration. 60 MPs are drumming for the reactivation of the bell, fired up by the "Daily Telegraph" and other Brexit papers. Prime Minister Boris Johnson also intervened in the dispute on Tuesday. "We're looking to see if the public can fund it," Johnson told the BBC. You are working on a plan. In the afternoon, however, a government spokesman made it clear that the government would not take action itself. If the public found the money, it would be great.
Tory MP Francois is now touring the radio studios and asking for donations. Maybe the BBC could hold a cake sale, he suggested. Francois himself wants to give a thousand pounds, radio host Ferrari has also promised a thousand. Billionaire Michael Ashcroft, a conservative party donor, has pledged an undisclosed sum to make the campaign a success.
But the crowdfunding campaigns are slow to start. There are dozens of campaigns on the Gofundme website, so far the amounts have been modest. Charles Hodgson from the county of Surrey, for example, campaigns for donations under the title "Big Ben Bongs for Brexit". By Wednesday morning, he had raised £ 250 from nine people, including a hundred from himself. "It's a historic event that should be celebrated," says the 45-year-old ex-banker. He was "pretty patriotic" himself, but not a Brexit hardliner. He was in favor of leaving the EU because decentralization was better.
“Some say Big Ben's ringing is a waste of money. But you can say that about many things. London has just spent a lot of money on New Year's Eve fireworks. If it makes people feel good, it's worth it, ”says Hodgson.
Little time for a lot of money
He knows time is running out: To get Big Ben ready for January 31st, the money would have to be collected by Monday. If prominent Brexit supporters such as entrepreneur Tim Martin do not help with large donations, the goal will probably be missed.
The call by some Brexiteers to ring the bells in local churches the morning after Brexit also seems doomed to fail. The union of the hunchback spoke out against it in the "Times". The bells should not be used for political purposes, she said.
The organization Leave.EU had asked all "patriots" to ring the bells on February 1st at nine in the morning to celebrate the "independence" of Great Britain – "just as we did in 1945 for the victory of the Allies in Europe" ,
After all, the planned Brexit party can take place on Parliament Square. The Westminster district granted permission on Wednesday. "This is great news," tweeted Farage, who will speak that evening. Francois will also come to the party. He wanted to go through the Brexit night, he told the BBC, "to experience the sunrise in a free country".
More: Britain's exit from the EU will be expensive, warns Werner Hoyer, head of the European Investment Bank. Despite the outflow of capital, Hoyer wants to activate a trillion euros for climate protection by 2030.