Friday 17 January 2020 5:05 am

DEBATE: Should Big Ben bong on 31 January to mark Britain’s exit from the EU?

Nicholas Mazzei
Nicholas Mazzei is a corporate social responsibility adviser, and a former MEP candidate.

Should Big Ben bong on 31 January to mark Britain’s exit from the EU?

Alex Deane, a Conservative commentator, says YES.

Whether a bell rings at a certain time is a trivial thing. But it is symbolic, and symbols matter — to people, and to nations. Stymieing the ringing of a bell that rang two weeks ago for New Year seems to those outside our bureaucracy to reflect the continuing absence of loser’s consent among those who have never accepted the referendum result.

We are told, even after a General Election won by those pledging to “get Brexit done”, that it is “divisive” to celebrate leaving the EU. Well, perhaps. But there were those across the Atlantic loyal to the Crown who opposed American independence — I rather doubt that our transatlantic cousins timidly declined to celebrate the birth of their new country, swapping clapping for jazz hands for fear of triggering those of a monarchic tendency.

This, our nation’s rebirth, is a moment of great importance, when we should show optimism about our country’s future and be proud of our national confidence. Let freedom ring.

Nicholas Mazzei, a corporate social responsibility adviser and former MEP candidate, says NO.

There is only one reason to ring Big Ben to mark Brexit: for nationalist and jingoistic lovers of a long-gone British Empire to rub their victory in the face of those who lost the referendum.

Those advocating a celebration of a political event, one that has split our nation so divisively for nearly four years, need to start to show some decorum and restraint — and not just because of the £500,000 price tag.

Emotion over Brexit still runs high. For some, it is a desperately sad event. A national celebration, from Big Ben bonging to the minting of 50p Brexit coins (for the third time), can only serve to divide us further. At a time when the Prime Minister is trying to reunite the nation, using such a powerful symbol as Big Ben is crass at best.

Anyway, as yet, with another year at least of trade talks before the transition period ends, there’s not even anything to celebrate. Perhaps Brexiteers should keep their powder dry and wait to see how our exit from the EU plays out before popping the champagne corks.

Main image credit: Getty

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