Whether you are in favour of Big Ben chiming on Brexit day or not it appears that yet again, the public have been lied to.
Earlier in the week the House of Commons Commission estimated the cost of the bell chiming would be around £500,000. PM Boris Johnson suggested that the amount could be crowdfunded but backtracked a few days later, when the crowdfund had achieved over £126.000 in just a few days. It now stands at around £250,000 with the average donation being £16. The PM said that he hadn’t meant what he said.
A clock and watch repairer phoned LBC radio during the week and offered to make the bell ring for £20. He explained exactly what was required and that the £500,000 estimate was exorbitant. The ringing of the bell is apparently computerised and all that’s needed is for the clapper to be attached.
The true cost
Conservative MP Mark Francois decided to investigate it. He enquired as to how much it had cost for the bell to ring on New Year’s Eve and found it was £14,200. Pressurised, the Commission agreed to reduce the cost to £320,000. Accusing the Commission of deliberately inflating the cost, he is now calling for a full investigation.
The case for not ringing the bell
Many people believe that it would offend Europeans in the EU to see Brits celebrating a separation from them. Those who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, and have not changed their minds, would also be upset.
The case for Big Ben chiming
Brexiteers want to celebrate leaving the EU, some of whom have waited over 40 years for the event. Others consider this historic event should be properly marked and perceive Big Ben chiming as appropriate. This is because there is a specific time for leaving, stated in Article 50, is 11pm.
How one lie can lead to many more
As we see so often in politics, one lie is often followed by more lies. This is a classic example. It seems clear that a figure of £500,000 would be difficult to justify for 11 chimes of a bell. The amount almost seems like a figure pulled out of a hat.
When the PM suggested that the public fund the work required to achieve it, he clearly didn’t expect the crowdfund to accrue £500,000. When he suspected that it would, he backtracked on what he had said.
The Commission stated that materials put in place for the bell to be rung at New Year, had been removed. Even if this was the case, it had still only cost £14,200 to set up so how did they come to the figure of firstly £500,000 and secondly £320,000?
Thrown into the mix by the government was that it wouldn’t be unlawful to take public money to fund it. If this was the case, why did Boris Johnson suggest it?
It seems apparent that the government doesn’t want Big Ben chiming on Brexit Day. If the reasons why had been explained to the general public it’s highly likely they would have been accepted.
However, because of the obvious lies that have been told it’s probable that Brexiteers will insist on getting their way.
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