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No Big Ben bongs: UK government plans light show to mark moment of Brexit

Fri, 17th Jan 2020 22:30

LONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's
Downing Street residence will be lit up with a countdown to
Britain's exit from the European Union on Jan. 31, as part of a
light display to mark the moment of Brexit, the government said
on Friday.

Johnson had proposed a crowdfunding campaign to allow the
Big Ben bell in parliament's clock tower to sound even though it
has been largely silent since 2017 while renovation work is
carried out on the tower.

Members of the public have donated more than 200,000 pounds
($260,580) of the 500,000 pounds Johnson said it would cost for
Big Ben to bong, but the government has now said parliamentary
authorities do not believe they would be allowed to accept the
money.

"January 31st is a significant moment in our history as the
United Kingdom leaves the EU and regains its independence,"
Johnson's office said in a statement setting out its plans to
mark Brexit - a moment which will be celebrated by some and
mourned by others in a country still divided on the issue.

"The government intends to use this as a moment to heal
divisions, re-unite communities and look forward to the country
that we want to build over the next decade."

On the evening of Jan. 31, Johnson will address the nation,
his office said. Earlier in the day he will hold a special
meeting of his top team of ministers in northern England.

The government said it plans to broadcast the light display
in Downing Street on social media, including a clock counting
down to 2300 GMT, the moment Brexit officially takes place.
Other buildings around the government district of Whitehall will
also be lit up.

The Union Jack be flown on all of the flag poles around
Parliament Square, where Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage has
been given permission to hold a party with speeches and music.

A commemorative Brexit coin, inscribed with the words
"Peace, prosperity and friendship with all nations", will also
be put into circulation on the day Britain leaves the EU, the
government said.
($1 = 0.7675 pounds)
(Reporting by Kylie MacLellan, Editing by Timothy Heritage)

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