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United Kingdom 'disappointed' at Capital of Culture snub

24 November 2017

Dundee, Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry have submitted bids to host the event in 2023.

But the European Commission, which runs the scheme, said in a letter to the British Government UK access would be "discontinued" following Brexit.

The UK will not be able to put forward cities to compete in the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition due to Brexit, according to an edict from the European Commission.

Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton added: "I am extremely disappointed that the city's bid to become the European City of Culture has been thrown out".

It was submitted to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport on Friday October 27.

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"The timing is disrespectful not only to the citizens of Dundee, but to people from all five bidding cities who have devoted so much time, effort and energy so far in this competition".

Tom Watson, Labour's shadow Culture Secretary, said some of the cities had already spent more than £500,000 on their bids and said the UK Government needed to explain how it will prevent the UK from becoming "culturally isolated".

The DCMS has said it is "deeply disappointed" and criticised the Commission for waiting until the United Kingdom cities had submitted their bids before communicating the decision to ban them.

Not only does the decision smack of petty vindictiveness - non-EU cities have been afforded Capital of Culture status in the past - but it fails to recognise the power of the arts to bring countries and communities together.

Under new rules, the prize is open to entrants from European Union member states as well as candidate and potential members.

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"The Prime Minister has been clear that while we are leaving the European Union, we are not leaving Europe and this has been welcomed by European Union leaders", a No 10 spokeswoman said.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, a former Labour shadow foreign secretary, said the news was "a bad blow to Leeds's great bid for 2023 which has gathered so much support from across the city".

"Other countries who are not of the EU have taken part in the past but they have been part of the European economic area or the European Free Trade Association".

The European Commission has pulled the plug on the UK's right to host the title - despite the Westminster Government launching its official competition late previous year.

We are in discussions with the DCMS regarding the position.

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United Kingdom 'disappointed' at Capital of Culture snub