Big Ben: MPs to gather 'with heads bowed' for bell's final bongs

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At least 20 MPs are expected to gather outside Parliament in solemn silence to witness Big Ben’s final bongs before it falls silent on Monday.

Labour MP Stephen Pound said he hoped “like-minded traditionalists” would gather “with our heads bowed but hope in our hearts” as the clock sounds for the last time ahead of renovation work.

The Ealing North MP is one of many parliamentarians hoping a compromise can be reached so the Great Bell is not silenced for the longest period in its 157-year history,

Mr Pound said: “There’s going to be a small group of us standing there with bowed heads in the courtyard.”

Big Ben in numbers

Asked if he was joking, he replied: “No, of course I’m not, of course we’re going to be there – a group of like-minded traditionalists.”

He went on: “We’re going to be gathering outside the members’ entrance, gazing up at this noble, glorious edifice, listening to the sounds rolling across Westminster, summoning true democrats to the Palace of Westminster.

“We’ll be stood down there with heads bowed but hope in our hearts.”

Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake said the House of Commons Commission, which is responsible for the Palace of Westminster’s maintenance, was encouraging people to witness the halting of the bell’s bongs.

Earlier this week, Parliament said it would review plans to silence the Great Bell for four years for maintenance work to be carried out, after Theresa May joined a backlash against the move.

But the bongs will still be halted after noon on Monday so the work on the Elizabeth Tower and the clock and bell it houses can begin.

Parliamentary officials have insisted workers’ hearing would be put at “serious risk” if the bell continues chiming.

They warned that those using the 100-metre-high scaffolding around the tower could also be startled by the 118-decibel bongs.

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