The Commons Leader held his mobile phone close to the microphone near the despatch box and pressed play, ensuring MPs heard the words: “When Britain first, at heaven’s command.” Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle intervened to joke Mr Rees-Mogg had broken the values of the House, and teased: “How dare he.” Mr Rees-Mogg added: “I of course apologise for any offence I may have given the House, but when Britain first, at heaven’s command, arose from out the azure main, this was the anthem of the land and guardian angels sang this strain.
“Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves, and Britons never, never, never shall be slaves. And let us hope the BBC will recognise the virtues of Britannia in this land of hope and glory.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the country is going through “an orgy of national embarrassment” about its traditions and history, as the BBC reversed its decision about the Last Night Of The Proms.
Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory will now be sung at the concert, following weeks of debate.
The broadcaster previously said the pieces would feature without lyrics, following controversy over their perceived historical links with colonialism and slavery, but they will now be performed by a select group of vocalists.
The BBC announced the U-turn one day after Tim Davie took over as director-general.
Musicians are performing live at the Royal Albert Hall – but without an audience due to coronavirus restrictions – across the final two weeks of the season, ending in the much-talked about Last Night.
The run-up to the Last Night has seen musicians, media industry figures and even the Prime Minister weigh into the debate over the pieces.
Speaking to the new intake of Tory MPs after the BBC announced the change, Mr Johnson said: “I do think this country is going through an orgy of national embarrassment about some of the things that other people around the world love most about us.
“People love our traditions and our history with all its imperfections.
“It’s crazy for us to go around trying to censor it. It’s absolutely absurd and I think we should speak out loud and proud for the UK and our history.”
“While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.
“We hope everyone will welcome this solution. We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country – and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone.
“It will not be a usual Last Night, but it will be a night not just to look forward to, but to remember.”
The BBC’s former director-general Lord Tony Hall previously insisted the decision to remove the lyrics was a “creative” one.
But he confirmed that the issue of dropping songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial past had been discussed.
Later, the BBC said the traditional anthems would be sung at next year’s Last Night Of The Proms.
Published at Thu, 03 Sep 2020 11:28:00 +0000