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Friday 17 January 2019

The crowdfunding campaign to cover the cost of recommissioning Big Ben in time for January 31st has unsurprisingly hit a stumbling block. In its bid to block Brexiteers, the House of Commons Commission, which holds authority over the bell tower, is resorting to the EU’s favourite weapon, bureaucracy.

The crowdfunder has done extraordinarily well, raking in £160,000 in 48 hours, but yesterday the Commission said the donation could not be accepted under parliamentary rules over financial donations. Rather typically, the six MPs that sit on the Commission are said to be miffed they didn’t get asked before Boris invited the public to “bung a bob” on Tuesday.

However, Speaker Lindsey Hoyle, who did not object to chiming the Bell to mark independence when it was raised in the Commons shortly before Christmas, has invited Boris to table a motion on Monday, ordering the big bong.

“I don’t think we ever thought that it would be as complex as the House of Commons authorities have since set out,” a Downing Street source told the Telegraph.

The MP orchestrating the campaign, Mark Francois said it “would be completely illogical” for Boris to withdraw support for the fundraising campaign “as it was the Prime Minister that began it”.

“I beg the Prime Minister to step up and tell the Commission they’ve got this wrong, and he and the Government will overrule it unless they change their mind,” implored Iain Duncan Smith.

Running in parallel to the Big Ben battle is our own campaign for church bells across Britain to ring on the morning of February 1st. The Bishop of Buckingham struck out at us earlier in the week and was at it again yesterday, describing our mission as “tacky”. Find our diplomatic response below. You can find out more about our campaign here.

Guy Verhofstadt appeared on Radio 4 this morning to discuss EU citizens’ rights and, with the exception a few rousing words for Remainers at the end, his voice lacked its distinctive shrillness. You’d be forgiven for thinking Mr Verhohstadt was a Belgian weatherman, sent over to the BBC as part of some pointless EU exchange, which wouldn’t be that surprising, the weather is awfully similar over there.

But this being the BBC, Today programme presenter Justin Webb primed Verhofstadt towards the end by asking him if he thought Britain would rejoin the EU. Naturally, the MEP and former prime minister took the invitation with glee, see tweet below.  

With events running at a much slower pace we’ll be dispatching updates as and when newsworthy stories come in. If you have any comments or thoughts on how you would like us to run Brexit Brunch in the future, we’d be delighted to hear from you, simply email us at info@leave.eu.