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This Labour MP Dabbed His Eyes As Big Ben Rang Out For The Last Time

Bong! Bong! Bong!

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This is what happened outside parliament on Monday afternoon: A Labour MP dabbed his eyes as the Big Ben bell rang out for the last time before being (largely) silent for the next four years.

BuzzFeed News / Jim Waterson

Stephen Pound, the Labour MP in question, told a crowd of political reporters starved of actual political news that he was desperately upset by the decision to silence Big Ben for four years while urgent repairs are made to parliament's Elizabeth Tower.

The bell will be silenced (except for rare special occasions) as it's considered too dangerous for workmen to be close to it while it rings.

"Bong-O Gone-O That's So Wrong-O," Pound told journalists as he turned up to mark the temporary end of an era.

He then failed in an attempt to convince fellow Labour MP Jess Phillips to join his vigil before declaring: "These are the chimes of freedom rolling across Westminster."

Pound proceeded to dab his eyes dramatically as the midday bells rang out over Westminster, with hundreds of parliamentary workers gathered to watch.

Stephen Pound quotes old saying that "no one is as conservative as a Labour MP" as he watches Big Ben chime. Not su…

As many as a thousand people stood outside the parliamentary gates on Parliament Square, waiting for the moment when the bells chimed for midday.

Fellow Labour MPs suggested Pound is possibly taking the piss out of the entire row over the silencing of the bongs, which started when parliamentary authorities announced the forthcoming silence last week.

He's one of the funniest people I've ever met. I love the way he's pretending to cry and using the hankie to stop h…

The decision to silence Big Ben has been one of the few political stories around in the first true "silly season" for several years, with almost no major political news around for reporters to cover while parliament is in recess. As a result, a series of angry backbench MPs from both major parties have lined up to call for action in the name of democracy.

"It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy," Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told the Daily Mail.

The prime minister's team decided to stay well away from the issue of the bongs on Monday morning.

Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Theresa May was widely ridiculed by opposition politicians last week by calling for the matter to be studied "urgently" to ensure Big Ben was heard on a regular basis prior to 2021.

"Of course we want to ensure people’s safety at work but it can’t be right for Big Ben to be silent for four years," the prime minister said.

On Monday morning her spokesperson, perhaps aware of the mockery, was reluctant to commit the prime minister to a strong position on the sound of the bells, citing her previous statements on the issue and the fact that she's working in her Maidenhead constituency.

As with Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, and just about everything in British public life, there's a massive age divide among those who care about the silencing of the bongs.

So many issues now are proxies for this age based cultural cleavage that is occurring in the U.K.

In the absence of any other major news, journalists have covered the story at length. The Sun on Sunday was running stories claiming that House of Commons Speaker John Bercow's sex life is under threat due to the end of the bongs, while the Daily Telegraph reported on a row about the existence of a "democracy lamp" next to Big Ben which would also be switched off, despite almost no one in parliament having ever heard of the thing.

That's without the fake viral story about Big Ben being renamed "Massive Mohammed" when parliament reopens, which, inexplicably, some people actually believed.

We haven't even mentioned the effect the Big Ben shutdown could have on Brexit, given past statements by the government.

No10 makes clear - we leave the EU when "Big Ben bongs at midnight" on March 29/30 2019

Bit awkward. But there we are: a national crisis over some bells. August, everyone!

Jim Waterson is a politics editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Jim Waterson at

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