Britain cries foul as European Union nixes its Capital of Culture bid

The UK will split from the EU in 2019

The UK will split from the EU in 2019

REPRESENTATIVES from Belfast, Derry and Strabane, along with four British cities, have expressed anger and outrage at being disqualified from bidding to become European Capital of Culture in 2023.

A letter from the European Commission to the UK's Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said the bids "would not be possible".

Speaking to the Evening Telegraph, a spokeswoman said "As one of the many concrete consequences of its decision to leave the European Union by 29 March 2019, the United Kingdom can not host the European Capital of Culture in 2023".

"The commission believes it is common sense for United Kingdom cities to discontinue the process and I can confirm that a letter has been sent by Martine Reicherts (EC director-general) setting this out".

She said: "Whilst the preference of the Scottish Government would be to remain a full member of the European Union, we sincerely hope that cultural collaboration is an area which will form part of the UK's future partnership with the EU".

The title, which rotates between European countries, is meant to raise the profile of the host and boost tourism.

Liverpool's programme secured a total income of £130m over six years - the highest for any European Capital of Culture to date.

The winning city of five in the running to be the UK's candidate was due to be announced next week.

A Belfast City Council spokeswoman said: "We are aware that DCMS is still in discussions with the European Commission and are seeking urgent clarification on the matter".

"The European Commission must now explain why it has made a decision to engage in blatant discrimination against the bid from Leeds".

No 10 said that Theresa May was "disappointed".

British politicians tore into the European Union over the decisions branding it "bitter" and hugely "disrespectful" to the cities who could have been told after the referendum 18 months ago.

Only cities in countries within the EU, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), or those that have applied to join the EU are eligible to be considered.

"As is usual with cultural programmes and competitions, the United Kingdom government bears no responsibility for the financial investment made by the cities and councils", the department said. Liverpool was the last British city to be...

Tom Watson, deputy leader of the Labour Party, said some cities have already spent "up to £500,000 on their bid submissions".

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