Bill The Bong?
The Big Ben has been undergoing repair works for quite some time… the huge clock chimed only at the Midnight on January 1 in recent times. A couple of weeks ago, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced that London’s iconic Big Ben Bell would bong again at 11pm (local time) on January 31 to mark the Brexit or Britain’s exit from the European Union (EU). However, it will be an expensive affair… as the Johnson Administration needs at least GBP 0.5 million to complete the renovation works. Keeping in mind the expenditure, the Premier urged Britons to donate GBP 1 each!
Meanwhile, the House of Commons has strongly criticised Prime Minister Johnson for making such an appeal. According to the Lower House of the British Parliament, the gesture is not only unacceptable, but also illogical!
Initially, the Johnson Administration informed the press that the Big Ben would bong on January 31, and the renovation works would be halted for a fortnight. The Administration issued a press release, stating that the Government would spend GBP 0.5 million required to properly organise the restoration of Big Ben. Otherwise, it would not be possible to mark the Brexit in style! However, some Members of the Parliament made it clear that they would not allow the Government to put pressure on the exchequer. Then, the PM requested the people to “Bung a Bob for a Big Ben Bong.”
In an television interview, PM Johnson said: “People will help (in raising funds), if government funds are not used.” Within 48 hours (of the PM’s TV interview), viewers started donating cash to cover the estimated GBP 500,000 cost of ringing Big Ben for Brexit, and GBP 1 million was reportedly raised by the Brexit supporters! Reports suggest that pro-Brexit MPs Jacob Rees-Mogg and Andrea Leadsom participated in the fund-raising activities. Still, the House of Commons said that it was ‘unprecedented‘ to pay for the work through donations, and “any novel form of funding would need to be consistent with principles of propriety and proper oversight of public expenditure”.
In a statement, the House of Commons Commission that organises the running of Parliament stated the bell was “unlikely” to sound at 11pm on January 31, the moment Brexit officially takes place, in part because of the estimated cost of GBP 500,000 to make it happen. The 10, Downing Street is in deep trouble because of the Commission’s statement. In an attempt to save face, a senior spokesperson of the 10, Downing Street has claimed that the Government will make further arrangements to mark that historic day. According to the spokesperson, Union flags will fly in the Parliament Square and a commemorative coin will finally go into circulation. The Government buildings on Whitehall will also be lit up for the occasion, as PM Johnson will deliver a televised address to mark the moment!
Although Britain would officially be leaving the 28-member bloc on the night of January 31, it will keep on following EU rules for an 11-month transition period. With the Brexit, Britain will be the first nation ever to leave the bloc…
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