Five British cities vying for the European Capital of Culture 2023 title have been told they cannot continue with their bids.
Tourism minister John Glen MP (pictured) said it was a “crazy decision” by the European Commission, which said that Brexit means UK cities cannot take part in the bidding process.
Glen said the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport is liaising with Milton Keynes, Leeds, Belfast, Dundee, and Nottingham “on the way forward”.
The Creative Industries Federation said it “stands ready” to mediate between the European Commission and UK government.
“We are gutted to learn that the UK will not be allowed to host the European Capital of Culture as planned in 2023 after Brexit,” the CIF said in a statement.
“This is despite the fact that cities in Europe that are outside the European Union have participated in the scheme historically.
“A panel to assess these bids was due to convene next week. People are working feverishly behind the scenes to reverse this decision.
“We hope the Prime Minister recognises that the European Capital of Culture scheme can help transform cities, delivering economic growth to the local area and making them better places to live and work. The benefits of participation in the scheme are clearly demonstrated by Liverpool and Glasgow, which won the title of Capital of Culture in 1990 and 2008 respectively.”
A statement from the bidders in Leeds 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. This announcement has been made after cities have submitted their 80-page bids and just four working days before the city was due to meet with the panel is shocking.
“To have the rug pulled from under us at this late stage would be a huge blow.”
The Nottingham statement read: “Our bid has brought Nottingham together and regardless of any outcomes we will work to implement many of the positive actions.”
Dundee 2023 said: ““We are hugely disappointed at this decision that has come just days before the Dundee bid team was due to travel to London to make its pitch.
“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.
“While the dust is still to settle on what is a bombshell for all of us, the spirit of the bid remains very much alive and kicking.”
The candidates from Belfast said: “We are…deeply disappointed with this recent development but are committed to ensuring that the time, energy, enthusiasm, ideas and resources put into our bid are carried forward regardless.”
The Milton Keynes team commented: “We’re disappointed, but nothing will reduce our ambition to continue to grow our arts, heritage and cultural sectors in MK.”