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A spokesman for the Parliamentary authorities said: 'The chimes are being stopped to provide a safe environment for the people working on the scaffolding.Constant proximity to the chimes would pose a serious risk to their hearing, and prevent efficient working.'Officials stressed that Big Ben would still chime during the renovation – by special arrangement – to herald the New Year and on Remembrance Sunday.But having marked the hour with almost unbroken service since 1859, the Great Bell's bongs will soon cease for four years – because of health and safety.

One told The Sun: 'Poor John may live to regret this controversial decision if it means it's not just the bongs that are turned off.'In 2011, Mrs Bercow raised eyebrows at Westminster when she posed for a racy photoshoot, with just a bedsheet wrapped around her, for a picture with Parliament in the background.

Are they working three shifts in 24 hours, or are they doing a 9 to 5?

'Steve Jaggs, 53, who holds the title of Keeper of the Great Clock and leads a team of three mechanics who visit the tower three times a week to wind and oil it, told the Mail the reason for silencing the bongs was 'health and safety and duty of care'.

Last week Tory MPs said it would be disappointing if Britain left the EU with 'a wimper'.

Jacob Rees-Mogg said: 'Big Ben ought to be kept striking as much as possible during the repairs, as long as it doesn't deafen the work force.'It would be symbolically uplifting for it to sound out our departure from the EU as a literally ringing endorsement of democracy.'Peter Bone said: 'We are being liberated from the European Union superstate and Britain will again be a completely self-governing country.

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