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The Huge Cost of Getting Big Ben to Bong on 31st Jan 2020 Brexit Day

With the countdown to Brexit Day well underway, there is a debate over the cost of ringing it in with the help of Big Ben. It has been suggested by pro-Brexit MPs that the famous chimes should ring out at 11pm on the 31st of January 2020. But how much could it cost?

What Did Boris Johnson Say?

The Prime Minister has pointed out that it would cost a lot of money to announce Brexit with the iconic chimes of Big Ben. He mentioned a figure of £500,000. With the proposed plan for it to strike 11 times, that would mean a cost of £45,454 for each and every chime.

The numbers from the House of Commons Commission start at £320,000 and go up to the half a million pounds figure mentioned by Boris Johnson. Why is it so expensive to do this?

The Maintenance Currently Underway

The problem is that Big Ben is currently undergoing maintenance work. The cost mentioned by the Commission includes two separate parts. This is because the mechanism that sounds the bell and the belfry floor have both been removed.

First of all, it would cost £120,000 to bring back the mechanism that makes the bong and to fit a temporary floor. These items were both removed on the 2nd January and the originals can’t be replaced in time for the end of January.

The other aspect is how much it would cost to delay the essential maintenance that is getting carried out. This has been put at £100,000 per week and could run up to a total of £400,000.  

Is It Worth It?

The House of Commons Commission has declared that cost of making Big Ben ring in Brexit just isn’t worth it. However, they have left the door open by saying that they will answer any questions made on the subject by MPs.

With the economy suffering a sluggish 2019 and many businesses being forced to turn to international collection services, this cost is seen as being unjustified. Boris Johnson has also confirmed that it would be difficult to accept public donations towards the cost.

The restoration work that is currently being carried out started in 2017. However, it was planned from the start that Big Ben would sound on certain occasions. This has allowed the maintenance team to work around those dates.

This was why work was put on hold to let the bells chime for New Year’s Eve. The other special dates that have been planned for are Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day. No plans were made for ringing in Brexit.

It was confirmed in Parliament that the cost of striking Big Ben on New Year’s Eve in 2019 was £14,200. The same cost applied to Remembrance Sunday. Yet, the cost for doing it again on Brexit Day is calculated to be over 35 times this figure.

It was Sir Paul Beresford who answered this question in Parliament. He pointed out that costs had been kept low by co-ordinating around the maintenance work well in advance for other special dates. In addition, he confirmed that if less notice were required, “the costs would substantially increase”.