David Cameron enters debate to keep poppy display open at Tower of London

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says he hopes for an extension of about a week

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The Independent Online

The Prime Minister has entered into the debate over the extension of the stunning poppy installation at the Tower of London, which he has said “brings a huge amount of reverence for those who lost their lives”.

David Cameron’s official spokesperson said the Prime Minister “welcomes the fact that discussions are under way” over the hugely popular display.

Nick Clegg, David Milliband and Nigel Farage have all called on Historic Royal Palaces for the display to be extended past its Armistice Day deadline, and the Mayor of London claims the installation has now become a “global visitor attraction”.

Boris Johnson is understood to have spoken to the Prime Minister on Thursday night, and told the London Evening Standard that he was hopeful of an extension of “maybe a week” would be agreed.

Four million people are expected to have seen installation of the 888,246 ceramic flowers, called Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, by 11 November. All of the poppies have now been sold for £25 each, with all net proceeds plus 10 per cent shared between six service charities, including the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes.

Mr Jonson said on Thursday that the poppy field at the Tower is “a unique and poignant focus of remembrance in this centenary year”.

“It has grown rapidly in popularity, to such an extent that it is now a global visitor attraction,” he said, adding he is keen for the exhibition to stay open “to give as many people as possible the chance to glimpse something so incredible, whilst easing the pressure on numbers”.

But the artist who created the work, Paul Cummins, said he does not want the installation on display past 12 November, when it is due to be dismantled.

He told the BBC that the exhibition was supposed to come to an end to symbolise that human beings are transient.

“The idea was that it will only be there for a finite time like we are.

“It will be nice to keep it here but it isn’t mine anymore – it belongs to the world now,” he said.

The Historic Royal Palaces said at this time there is no plan to extend the display and that the poppies will be removed as planned and sent to the people who had bought them. 

"The transience of the installation is key to the artistic concept, with the dispersal of the poppies into hundreds of thousands of homes marking the final phase of this evolving installation.

"We are currently planning further ways in which the Tower of London will be marking the coming years of the centenary and the legacy of the poppies in the moat," it said in a statement.