Debate Over How To Mark Moment UK Leaves EU

UK News

Big Ben's bells rang out as Europe declared victory in World War II and hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in celebration.

Written By Associated Press Television News | Mumbai | Updated On:

Big Ben's bells rang out as Europe declared victory in World War II and hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets in celebration.

Now as Britain prepares to leave the European Union (EU) on Friday, there are some Brexit supporters who are calling for Big Ben's bongs to mark what they say is the biggest moment in the UK's history in more than 50 years.

But unlike during the war when the country was united in celebration, the country is divided over Brexit - the 2016 referendum was split 52:48.

For pro-Europeans, departure at 11pm (2300GMT) on January 31st will be the moment the UK abandons a project that brought once-warring nations together, created a vast free-trading zone of half a billion people and let Britons study, work and live across the continent.

For Brexit supporters, though, it's time to celebrate the moment Britain once again becomes a sovereign nation after 47 years of membership of the bloated, bureaucratic EU club.

But if they wanted Big Ben bongs they'll be disappointed.

Big Ben has been largely silent since 2017 while the clock tower is repaired, and House of Commons authorities said bringing it back for one night could cost as much as 500,000 pounds (654,000 US dollars).

"It's a momentous moment", said Brexit Party chairman Richard Tice, who plans to join party leader Nigel Farage and thousands of supporters for a "Brexit celebration" outside Parliament on Friday night.

Organisers are promising music, songs, speeches, a light show and a New Year's Eve-style countdown in the shadow of Parliament's clock tower.

But, to their disappointment, there will be no bongs from the giant Big Ben bell.

Brexiteers launched a crowd funding campaign to bring back the bell, encouraged by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who said last week that "we're looking at whether the public can fund it."

But Johnson's Downing Street office quickly distanced itself from the idea.

However, Tice said he has a plan B - to sound out the Big Ben bongs via a speaker system.

Others don't share his excitement.

Britain has been divided ever since she joined in 1973 and it's likely will continue to be long after she leaves.

Even how to mark the occasion is proving as divisive as the issue of Europe itself.

According to Analyst Tony Travers, the wrangling over Friday's Brexit celebration is a symbol of the entire Brexit argument.

He believes it is only a small percentage of the country who want to celebrate the event.

Brexit may "be done" at 11pm on Friday but for many the country remains as divided as ever.

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