Jacob Rees-Mogg 'waives the rules' to play Rule, Britannia! in the House of Commons after BBC U-turn

Jacob Rees-Mogg played a snippet of the song in the House of Commons chamber
Jacob Rees-Mogg played a snippet of the song in the House of Commons chamber. Credit: PA

Jacob Rees-Mogg has played a snippet of Rule, Britannia! in the House of Commons to celebrate the BBC reversing its decision about the Last Night Of The Proms.

The leader of the House of Commons 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 replied: “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.”

Later in Business Questions, Labour MP Kevin Brennan quipped: "I was very disappointed with (Mr Rees-Mogg's) little musical stunt with his mobile phone earlier on - a clear case I thought of Britannia waives the rules."

Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory will now be sung at the concert at the Royal Albert Hall, following weeks of debate.

The broadcaster previously announced the songs would feature only as instrumentals, with reports over controversy due to their perceived historical links with colonialism and slavery.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson waded into the row describing concerns about the lyrics as "self-recrimination" and "wetness".

The BBC has now confirmed that the songs will be sung at the Proms by a select group of vocalists, citing "Covid-19 restrictions" as the initial reason for scrapping the lyrics.

A spokesperson for the BBC Proms said: “The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under Covid-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices.

“For that reason we took the artistic decision not to sing Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory in the Hall.

“We have been looking hard at what else might be possible and we have a solution.

“Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home.

"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.”