Big Ben chimed when the UK joined the European Union and it should bong for Brexit, a prominent Catholic Tory former leader has said.
Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the first Catholic to serve as a Conservative leader, said Big Ben rings on all the “big occasions” and argued that it is only fitting that it marks the UK’s exit from the EU.
“It sounded out the end of the war in Europe, it sounded out the end of the war in Japan, when we joined the EU…and as we leave, arguably the biggest decision we have made since the end of the war, then the bell I think should sound for that,” he told the BBC.
“If they’ve managed to make it sound for other things I don’t see why they can’t make it sound when we leave the EU.”
His comments came as arch-Eurosceptic Nigel Farage accused the Government of being “embarrassed” by Brexit over its failure to back the bid for Big Ben to chime as the UK leaves the EU on Friday 31st January.
As the ding-dong over the bongs descended into farce, Mr Farage claimed Boris Johnson “misled” the public when he suggested people could “bung a bob” to support the campaign.
More than £270,000 has been donated by more than 13,000 people since the StandUp4Brexit fundraiser was launched on the GoFundMe crowdfunding website earlier this month.
The Prime Minister initially said that the Government was “working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong” after Commons authorities ruled out the proposal because it could cost £500,000.
But Downing Street has since sought to distance itself from the campaign, with a Number 10 spokesman insisting the matter is for MPs and that the Prime Minister’s focus is on the Government’s plan to mark exit day.
Meanwhile, the European Parliament confirmed that the Union flag which flies above the building in Strasbourg will be lowered after Britain’s exit and sent to the House of European History.
A spokesman said there would not be a flag-lowering ceremony, but the parliament’s president David Sassoli will host a farewell ceremony to members to mark the departure of British MEPs.
Picture: A general view of Elizabeth Tower, which houses Big Ben. (Lewis Whyld/PA).