Big Ben to sign off for repair work

A group of MPs plan to gather outside Parliament for Big Ben's chimes later, before it falls silent for essential repair work to take place.

The bongs will sound at midday and are expected to be disconnected until 2021.

Labour MP Stephen Pound said he hoped at least 20 "traditionalists" would gather "with our heads bowed".

But some Parliamentarians mocked his proposal, with another Labour MP saying those who took part would look "ridiculous".

The House of Commons has said it will look again at the length of time Big Ben will be silenced amid "concerns".

The bell is to be put out of use - except for special occasions - to allow repairs to the surrounding Elizabeth Tower.

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Parliament said it must protect workers carrying out the renovations but Prime Minister Theresa May has said "it can't be right" that the famous bongs will not be heard again until 2021 and has asked for the proposals to be reviewed.

Mr Pound, MP for Ealing North, said: "There's going to be a small group of us standing there with bowed heads in the courtyard... a group of like-minded traditionalists.

"We'll be stood down there with heads bowed but hope in our hearts."

'Get a grip'

But some MPs have made fun of Mr Pound's suggestion.

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley, wrote on Twitter that she hoped MPs might realise "how ridiculous we look", adding "I tell you what is a shame, work place induced deafness".

Fellow Labour MP Wes Streeting responded: "I will be sat with a good book instead. #getagrip."

The Great Bell has sounded on the hour for 157 years and last fell silent in 2007.

It will still sound for important events including New Year's Eve and Remembrance Sunday.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Westminster Hour, Conservative MP Conor Burns said: "All I would say about it is I look forward to getting back to September and back down to business and I think when you see the footage tomorrow of our colleagues who gather at the foot of Big Ben you will not see too many colleagues who have careers ahead of them."

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