Anger as Leeds’ European Capital of Culture bid ditched over Brexit

By Robyn Owens

POLITICIANS in Leeds have expressed their shock at the announcement that UK cities are no longer eligible to become European Capital of Culture because of Brexit.

Five different places have bid to hold the title in 2023 – Leeds, Nottingham, Dundee, Belfast-Derry and Milton Keynes.

This was an opportunity for UK cities to receive a wealth of attention and tourism from around the world, not just Europe.

Leeds City Councillor Judith Blake, said: “We are hugely frustrated by the European Commission’s apparent proposal to remove the opportunity for a UK city to host the European Capital of Culture title in 2023.”

Ms Blake went on to say how she was “shocked” by the decision and how it was unfair for it to be announced four days before the cities were due to present their 80-page bid.

“In Leeds we believe in a future where our culture in all its forms is valued and experienced by the broadest set of people, and for it to be central to the city’s identity and to its future – both economically and socially,” she said.

John Glen, MP for Salisbury, tweeted: “Crazy decision by European Commission over Capital of Culture 2023. We’re leaving the EU – not Europe! My team at DCMS are speaking with the 5 cities right now on the way forward.”

Journalist Rosie Millard, chair of Hull’s UK City of Culture 2017 bid, appeared on Newsnight, just hours after the announcement and said the organisers’ decision imitates “throwing its toys out of a very big European shaped cot”.

The Leeds team have spent around half a million pounds already on the event to be told at this late stage that they cannot bid for the opportunity.

The reason many are outraged is that the EU have known about Brexit for the past 17 months so had enough time to make the rules clear to the UK cities.

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