I am disappointed for all those who have worked hard in Leeds, and the other contending towns, to hear this news. But there is a degree of hollowness to those in the government who are claiming this is a total surprise or a vindictive move.
The website for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport has warned that the programme is ‘subject to the outcome of exit negotiations which have a bearing on the UK’s participation’. The criteria states that host cities much be from states which are members of EU, EFTA, EEA or candidates to become so. Of course, the UK could be in one of these categories in the future, but as this Tory government has moved to rule out any of these options for the UK, they cannot reasonably expect special exceptions. They should have informed the cities concerned as soon as they decided to leave not just the EU but the single market/EEA as well!
There is a very simple way to persuade the EU to change their minds on this, but I doubt that the government will take it. Perhaps as more and more examples of the actual impact of a hard or chaotic Tory Brexit come to light, more people may begin to change their minds.
This article was first published by on the website of Richard Corbett MEP, Leader of the Labour Members of the European Parliament and Vice-Chair of the European Movement UK. Click here for more blogs about the EU or in depth Brexit Briefings.