Rees-Mogg plays Rule, Britannia! in Commons to celebrate BBC U-turn

A snippet of Rule, Britannia! has been played by Jacob Rees-Mogg in parliament as he urged the BBC to “recognise the virtues” of the song.

The opening lyrics rang through speakers in the Commons chamber as the leader of the house held his phone up to the microphone at the despatch box.

“When Britain first, at heaven’s command,” was played shortly before Mr Rees-Mogg turned off the song and sat down with a smile.

MP Jacob Rees-Mogg
Image: The minister laughed and turned the song off after a few seconds

Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle then intervened to joke it had broken the values of the Commons, and teased: “How dare he.”

The song and Land Of Hope and Glory have been in the headlines for several weeks after a newspaper reported the BBC was considering axing them from the Last Night of the Proms due to sensitivities about Britain’s colonial past.

The Proms is watched live by an audience of over 6000
Image: A row broke out over the singing of two songs at the Last Night of the Proms

The broadcaster initially said only orchestral versions would be performed at its annual classical musical concert held at the Royal Albert Hall, but then bowed to pressure and vowed they would be sung.

Mr Rees-Mogg later apologised for “any offence I may have given” about the stunt.

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General view of the Royal Albert Hall in London during the Last Night of The Proms.
Image: The BBC U-turned to allow the songs to be sung

But he added, launching into a riff on the original lyrics: “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.”

House of Commons after Jacob Rees-Mogg played Rule, Britannia! in the chamber
Image: The Commons Speaker jokingly said: ‘How dare he’

Mr Rees-Mogg was replying to Tory MP Joy Morrissey who claimed the BBC had used a “smokescreen set of excuses” for its original decision to “mask yet another virtue-signalling capitulation to political correctness”.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed the country is going through “an orgy of national embarrassment” about its traditions and history.

And Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s spokesperson said the BBC’s U-turn was the “right decision” but cautioned: “Enjoying patriotic songs does not and should not be a barrier to examining our past and learning lessons from it.”