Mark Francois, the Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, hit out at the House of Common Commission for “inflating” the cost of Big Ben’s bell ringing on Brexit Day at 11pm. The Commission previously said the equipment inside Big Ben has been taken out and it will cost an estimated GBP500,000 to get everything in place for Big Ben to chime on January 31st. But Mr Francois revealed it only costs GBP14,200.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Francois said: “It was the Prime Minister that called for this on the BBC a few days ago when he said people should give a bob so Big Ben can bong for Brexit.
“I saw him say it.
“It’s the Prime Minister who called for this crowdfunding campaign and we responded to his calls saying, you can’t ask the British public to pay for it and three days later go, ‘sorry! That’s not quite what I meant’.
“I checked the total just before coming on air, we’re just a few pounds shy of GBP250,000 and we’ve done that in just over two days.
“The public response has been amazing. The average donation is GBP16.
“The House of Commons Commission inflated the estimate. I got a Parliamentary question answered yesterday.
“I asked what it costed on New Year’s Eve and Remembrance as a comparison – GBP14,200.
“So they’ve been caught red-handed inflating the cost. Yesterday under pressure they slashed the cost to GBP320,000 so, we’re effectively at GBP250,000 and effectively about 75 percent of the way there already.”
It comes as Mr Francois blasted Remainers opposing calls for Big Ben to bong on Brexit day.
He told them to “stay home and watch Netflix” if they refuse to celebrate Britain’s “freedom” from the EU.
Speaking to Sky News, Mr Francois said: “I suppose if all else failed we could play a recording of Big Ben chime at 11pm.
“I’m sure you or the BBC or someone’s got to have that on tape somewhere.
“But I think this is such an iconic moment that we are feeling in the nation that we should do it properly.
“Bear in mind, it’s entirely voluntary.
“Those who wish to celebrate us becoming a free country again can do so.
“Those who don’t can stay at home and watch Netflix. It’s an individual choice.”