What does Nigel Farage have planned for his Brexit night bash?
Brexiteer warns that UK ‘looks like a joke’ if leaving EU is not celebrated
Brexit supporters have been granted permission to hold a party in London’s Parliament Square on 31 January – when the UK leaves the European Union.
The event, organised by the campaign group Leave Means Leave, is scheduled to take place between 9pm and 11.15pm on Brexit day.
The UK will officially leave the EU at 11pm on 31 January, which veteran Brexit campaigner Nigel Farage said was “a big moment in the history of this nation to celebrate”.
A spokesperson for London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who is a vocal Remainer, said “provisional authorisation” had been given for the event.
What is being planned for the party?
Brexit Party chairman and MEP Richard Tice said Brexiteers were “still working on Big Ben and fireworks”.
Brexiteers are hoping to crowdfund the money needed to make Big Ben chime when the UK leaves the EU, after Commons authorities said it would cost £500,000 to fund the initiative because the Elizabeth Tower is currently closed for refurbishment.
An amendment to the Brexit bill, which would have legally required the bell to chime on Brexit day at 11pm, failed last week.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson told BBC Breakfast: “We’re working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong, because there are some people who want to.”
But the House of Commons Commission, the group of MPs and officials responsible for the day-to-day running of Parliament, released a statement raising concerns about crowdfunding. Any fundraising would have to be “consistent with principles of propriety and proper oversight of public expenditure”, it said.
Nigel Farage said that if Big Ben did not chime, “our country looks like a joke”. Tice did, however, offer a compromise, suggesting that if Big Ben bongs are not possible, Brexiteers could play a recording of the bell on a speaker system.
What else is being planned?
Some MPs have called for church bells to ring out at the moment of exit, in lieu of Big Ben bongs.
The former Conservative leader Iain Duncan Smith said that while he would encourage this, it was a matter for individual churches rather than the government.
Others have warned about over-the-top celebrations following years of divisive political discourse over the issue.
Lib Dem peer Lord Greaves told the Lords this week that Brexit represented a “bereavement” for the three million EU nationals living in the UK, and it was inappropriate to hold jubilant celebrations, the Evening Standard reports.
He warned that EU nationals could be targeted by a “hostile minority” and that “some things may happen in some places which could be reminiscent of things happening in Germany in the early 1930s”.