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UK's official church bell ringers body rejects 'Bells for Brexit' campaign

by Tola Mbakwe

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) has said it does not agree with a campaign started by Leave.EU that has called for all churches to ring their bells the morning after the UK officially leaves the European Union.

While Leave.EU said it's a way to mark a new chapter in the nation's history and will reassert the Church's relevance, CCCBR said it cannot support the politicising of bell ringing.

"There are historical moments for which bells have been rung - end of world wars for example. In 2018 the Central Council worked with the government on a recruitment and awareness campaign to recognise 100 years since WW1 Armistice," said Vicki Chapman, the organisation's public relations officer.

"However the Central Council, as a principle, does not endorse bell ringing for political reasons. Individual towers have discretion to ring for such occasions but is on a case by case basis and typically needs permission from the incumbent."

Leave.EU has been asking its Twitter followers to contact CCCBR about their desire for church bells to ring for Brexit.

According to The Times, Leave E.U founder Arron Banks said he received 150 emails from people who support the idea and wanted their church bells to ring whether they had permission from the person in charge or not. 

The newspaper reports that Rt Rev Alan Wilson, Bishop of Buckingham, has spoken against the idea.

"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. Churches are there for the whole community, not for a political faction to crow over people they have beaten."

On the other hand it's been reported Rev Andy Bawtree of St Peter & St Paul in River, Kent, wants his bells to ring but will ask permission from the local church council first.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on BBC Breakfast on Tuesday that the Government was "working up a plan so people can bung a bob for a Big Ben bong" and "looking at whether the public can fund it".

His official spokesman insisted Brexit day would be properly marked, but said there was not a specific Government fund to make the Big Ben ring on Brexit night.

On Tuesday night, there were around 18 active pages on crowdfunding website GoFundMe attempting to raise cash for bongs.

But the majority had received no donations at all, and the most successful page so far had only attracted £205.

Restoring the bell was discussed at a meeting of the House of Commons Commission on Monday, but it was ultimately ruled out after it was revealed that it could cost £500,000.

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