UK Politics

Brexit: Big Ben bongs fundraising appeal closes

Queen Elizabeth Tower

Campaigners have officially ended a crowdfunding appeal which was raising money to make Big Ben's bell ring to mark Brexit day.

The StandUp4Brexit group says the £272,000 raised will instead go to veterans' charity Help for Heroes.

They say efforts to persuade House of Commons authorities to accept the donation have been "unsuccessful".

Big Ben is being renovated and the total cost of getting the bell working by Friday had been put at £500,000.

The online appeal was set up after the prime minister suggested in a BBC interview that the government was "working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong" at 23:00 GMT on 31 January.

Parliament had already refused to fund the work required for it to happen.

Downing St has since distanced itself from the remark, instead focusing on official plans to mark Brexit day, which include a light display.

StandUp4Brexit said it had received "14,280 donations from 56 countries in under a fortnight.

"The response from the British people has been fantastic and we are deeply grateful to everyone who donated."

The group said it had made "plain from the outset" that if the effort was unsuccessful, "any remaining funds" would be donated to the charity which helps wounded ex-soldiers.

"Every cloud has a silver lining and in this case it is that our military veterans that have been wounded in the service of their country will now receive a very substantial donation, thanks to your generosity," it added.

What repair works are being done?

Big Ben's chimes were silenced on 21 August 2017 to allow essential restoration work, lasting four years, to be carried out on the tower.

Parliamentary authorities said stopping the chimes would protect workers carrying out the repairs.

The total cost of the restoration project to the tower is estimated at £61m.

According to Parliament, the last time significant work was carried out was in 1983-85 - that project involved cleaning and repair of the stone, painting and repairs to the roof.

Big Ben repairs Q&A

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