‘Big Ben must bong for Brexit!’ Mark Francois calls for iconic bell to mark UK leaving EU

MPs voted 330 to 231 to proceed with the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and finally deliver Brexit for the UK in a historic moment on Thursday evening. The Brexit date – when the UK leaves the EU – is currently set for January 31, 2020. Tory Brexiteer Mark Francois caused the House of Commons to erupt when he called for London’s Big Ben clock to ring in celebration on the exit day.

Mr Francois told the Commons: “We will leave the European Union at 11pm GMT on January 31.

“As we leave at a precise, specified time, those who wish to celebrate will need to look to a clock to mark the moment.

“It seems inconceivable to me and many colleagues that that clock should not be the most iconic timepiece in the world, Big Ben.

“Will he make representations to the House of Commons Commission, whose decision this is, that Big Ben should bong for Brexit?”

Mr Barclay replied: “My honourable friend will know that my opposite number often talked of a clock ticking.

“But he’ll also know that it is for the House authorities, but I’m sure they will have heard the representations that he makes.

“This is an important moment in our national story.

“I’m sure they will want to reflect that in the appropriate way.”

The bill will now pass to the House of Lords for further scrutiny next week.

If peers choose to amend it will it come back before MPs.

The bill covers “divorce” payments to the EU, citizens’ rights, customs arrangements for Northern Ireland and the planned 11-month transition period.

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Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay made a speech to Parliament before the vote.

He said: “This bill was secure our departure from the European Union with a deal that gives certainty to businesses.

“It protects the rights of our citizens and ensures that we regain control of our money, our borders, our laws and our trade policy.

“Once this bill has been passed, and the withdrawal agreement ratified, we will proceed swiftly to the completion of a free trade deal with the EU by the end of December 2020.

“As laid out in our manifesto, bringing the supremacy of EU law to an end and restoring permanently the sovereignty of this place.”

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