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Big Ben WILL bong for Brexit! UK exit from transition period on Dec31 gets full treatment

Announced today, the famous clock tower will ring at 11pm on December 31 to coincide with the end of the transition period.  This will mark part of Parliament’s New Year celebration rather than being specifically commissioned for Brexit. Big Ben and Elizabeth Tower have been under repairs since 2017.

It has only been rung for special occasions since repair work began.

The bell, which weighs 13.7 tonnes, last rang on November 11 to mark Armistice Day.

Members of the public have been urged to stay away from Westminster on New Year’s Eve due to coronavirus restrictions.

On Wednesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “No one should be gathering in large groups to see in the new year.”

The bell will be tested in the days leading up to New Year’s Eve to ensure it can produce its 12 bongs when the clock strikes midnight.

Britain will formally complete the Brexit transition period on January 1, 2021 after voting to leave the EU in 2016.

While the Parliament has confirmed Big Ben will ring out on December 31, there is uncertainty as to whether the UK will leave the transition period with or without a deal.

MPs will begin their recess from Thursday evening but may be called back for an emergency sitting if a deal is agreed.

EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, also stated a deal is close but certain issues still remain.

With two weeks left before the end of the transition, Michel Barnier did admit progress had been made but “stumbling blocks” still remain.

He told the EU Parliament today: “In this final stretch of talks, transparency and unity are important as ever.

“Good progress, but last stumbling blocks remain.

“We will only sign a deal protecting EU interests and principles.”

EU Parliament leaders have adopted a declaration stating they will not vote on any deal unless they see documentation by Sunday.

If they can access the document by midnight on Sunday, they will then proceed to have a session at the end of the year to provisionally ratify the agreement.

Under this EU members could allow the deal to be provisionally applied before the December 31 deadline so it can come into effect in 2021.

Manfred Weber, the German leader of the centre-right European People’s party, tweeted: “I have proposed to the European parliament leadership this morning that we should only approve a Brexit agreement if we get it until this Sunday.

“After that we cannot reasonably scrutinise the deal before the end of the year.

“The agreement is too important to rush through parliament.

“We owe it to the people and businesses in our constituencies who will be heavily affected by Brexit to scrutinise the deal appropriately.

“After Sunday we don’t believe this would still be possible.”

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