Official bell ringers body snubs 'Bells for Brexit' call

(Photo: A Perry)

The nation's official bell ringers body has rejected calls for churches to ring their bells when the UK officially leaves the European Union at the end of January.

The Central Council of Church Bell Ringers (CCCBR) has snubbed the call from the Leave.EU campaign group on the grounds that it would politicise bellringing.

Leave.EU wants all churches across the UK to ring their bells on February 1, the day after Britain's exit from the EU, as a way of marking the start of a new chapter in the nation's history. 

Vicki Chapman, public relations officer for CCCBR, explained why the organisation is rejecting the call. 

"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," she said. 

"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."

The Bishop of Buckingham, the Rt Rev Alan Wilson, shared similar sentiments on the Today programme. 

He said that "instrumentalising church bells" in this way would be "pretty tacky actually".  He added that he believed many priests in the Church of England were remaining neutral on the issue of Brexit. 

Rev Gareth Atha, the vicar of four churches in the South Holland constituency, told the Guardian: "We won't be ringing the bells. We feel it's important to remain politically neutral."