Big Ben bongs won't go ahead for Brexit day, campaigners admit as fundraising drive cancelled

Katy Clifton
The party is being planned in Parliament Square: AFP via Getty Images

Campaigners raising money to pay for Big Ben to ring out on Brexit day have admitted defeat after raising more than £270,000.

The organisers of the appeal said they had failed to persuade the House of Commons authorities to allow the bell to ring.

A GoFundMe page was set up after Boris Johnson suggested the Government was "working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong" on January 31.

But no such plan existed and the House of Commons Commission estimated that the cost of bringing the bell back into action could be as much as £500,000.

Boris Johnson on BBC Breakfast (BBC)

The fundraising appeal, led by Stand Up 4 Brexit and Tory MP Mark Francois, was cancelled at midday on Monday.

The £272,770 raised is now being donated to the Help for Heroes military charity.

Mr Francois said the campaign received more than 14,000 donations from 56 countries in less than a fortnight.

Deputy Chairman of the European Research Group (ERG) Mark Francois (Getty Images)

“The response from the British people has been fantastic and we are deeply grateful to everyone who donated,” the former minister said.

“However, having made final attempts over the last several days to persuade the House of Commons authorities that Big Ben should chime, we regret to report that we have been unsuccessful and therefore we feel we can no longer ask people to donate.

“We officially closed the fund at noon today.”

He added that “even though Big Ben will regrettably not chime for Brexit” many people “will be celebrating the fact that we become a free country again” at 11pm on January 31.

That was “the greatest prize of all”, he said.