Mark Francois: "I'm pretty confident that Big Ben will bong for Brexit"

16 January 2020, 20:48 | Updated: 16 January 2020, 20:53

Mark Francois is "confident" that Big Ben will bong for Brexit after the fundraising campaign reached over a quarter of the target in 24 hours.

Tory MP Mark Francois is supporting the crowdfunding initiative to raise £500,000 for Big Ben to bong for Brexit on 31st January.

"So far we're at just over £132,000... so we're over a quarter of the way there in 24 hours. We actually launched it at 7pm last night and breached the £125,000 threshold which was an early target over an hour ago," said Mr Francois, "we're a quarter of a way there in the day - the money is flooding in."

LBC's Iain Dale remarked that the Commons authorities seemed rather reluctant to take this money.

Mr Francois responded that the taxpayer paid for Big Ben to bong on New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday and calls to see the comparative costs on these occasions.

He said in his experience of working in the Ministry of Defence, "if the civil servants didn't want to do something, the first thing they would tell you is you couldn't afford it. If that didn't work they'd tell you it was technically impossible, if that didn't work they'd tell you it was illegal."

Anti Brexit campaign sign protesting the reported cost of Big Ben bonging for Brexit
Anti Brexit campaign sign protesting the reported cost of Big Ben bonging for Brexit. Picture: PA

He said he spent years "batting this away" and is "deeply skeptical that suddenly this costs half a million pounds."

"The money is pouring in, I'm pretty confident we're going to hit the target," Mr Francois said, "and then there's no reason why technically we can't do it."

Iain Dale pointed to a report that said the authorities would need two weeks' notice to erect a platform.

"What a load of old codswallop," said Mark Francois, "how long does it take to lay some flooring? I come from Essex, I've got some people who can lay some flooring like lightning. It doesn't take two weeks to put a temporary floor in and attach a clapper to a bell."

Iain Dale asked if this was in fact triumphalism and rubbing Remainers' noses in it.

The Tory MP pointed out it is optional to celebrate and those who want to can. He said when we do leave the EU it makes sense to mark the moment on the "most iconic timepiece in the world."

"This could be a moment of closure in some ways," he said, "it could actually be something of a catharsis."

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