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Wednesday 15 January 2020

In a recent edition of the Spectator’s Holy Smoke podcast, entitled Has the Church of England surrendered to ‘soft socialism’? the Queen’s former chaplain Dr Gavin Ashenden and presenter Damian Thompson were in agreement, even if the Church has not veered to the Left, one things for sure it sucks at politics.

That wholly accurate assertion was reinforced yesterday as the Bishop of Buckingham spoke on behalf of the Church’s woke hierarchy: Brexit is bad and Leave.EU’s bellringing campaign needs to be stopped. No matter what the bishops and archbishops of Buckingham, Oxford (the diocese in which Buckingham sits) or Canterbury say, it’s the ministers in the field who decide whether the bells ring on Independence Day or not.

“Two thirds of the population never voted for Brexit in the first place. It’s deeply divisive to ring church bells for something like this,” unofficial spokesperson for the Church, Bishop Alan Wilson told the Times. “Churches are there for the whole community, not for a political faction to crow over people they have beaten.”

Wilson’s remarks followed Leave.EU’s entreaty to the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers for an endorsement, which was rebuffed late on Monday. Making a distinction between “historical moments for which bells have been rung” and “bellringing for political reasons”. Brexit was unceremoniously placed in the latter category. We beg to differ.

But the lower echelons are chanting to a different hymn, the Times also quotes Andy Bawtree, vicar of St Peter & St Paul in River, Kent. Reverend Bawtree is keen as mustard to celebrate Britain’s historic independence on February 1. Good on him.

From lots of little dings across the country to one big bong in the capital. Front page of the Express today is a demand for Big Ben to chime at the moment we break with Brussels.

Meanwhile, the Sun reports Boris is urging Brits to help fund the 500,000 bill to get the great tower ready for the big occasion. A crowdfunder is being set up, Lord Ashcroft has pledged to underwrite any shortfall for as much as £100,000. We plan to put out a newsletter as soon as the funding page is live.

 “Big Ben must bong. If the Government aren’t prepared to pay the cost, then the people will,” said Nigel Farage.

An apt metaphor for the past four and bit years.