European Capital of Culture 2023:
Leeds Dream Crushed by Brexit

On 23 November 2017 the European Commission confirmed what many had suspected - that because of Brexit no UK city would be eligible to be the European Capital of Culture for the year 2023.  The Yorkshire Evening Post broke the news here .  We wrote to them to give our reaction, part of which was published.  This is the full text of the letter that we sent:

On behalf of Leeds for Europe I write to express our dismay at the news that, because of Brexit, Leeds will not be eligible to become the European Capital of Culture in 2023.  We have no doubt that had this bid been allowed to proceed then Leeds would have had an excellent chance of being awarded the honour of being the UK’s next host city.

This is a particularly cruel blow given that Leeds voted to Remain in the EU in the referendum of June 2016.  Yet this may just be the start of the suffering for our city and its people as the Brexit process picks up momentum.

During and since the EU referendum people who attempted to point out the many downsides of Brexit were accused of scaremongering and exaggeration.  Now that our government is dragging us down the path towards the exit door from the European Union it is becoming apparent that, if anything, the warnings about Brexit have been understated.

On Wednesday in the budget the Chancellor announced that forecasts of the UK’s economic growth have been downgraded for the foreseeable future, making the UK the poorest performing major economy in the world, having been, until the 2016 referendum, one of the best.  Wages are now not expected to return to 2008 levels until 2025 at the earliest.

In the same budget, the government announced that it is setting aside a staggering £3 billion to pay for the costs of implementing Brexit – more than it was able to allocate to funding the NHS.  That is £3bn spent on recruiting civil servants, building lorry parks, installing new IT systems and setting up new bureaucracy to handle tasks previously carried out within the EU.  That is £3bn that we are paying for through our taxes and which will not be available to spend on our schools, hospitals, police or armed forces.  What a waste.

It is not too late to change our minds about Brexit.  Leeds for Europe are campaigning for a referendum to be held once the full implications of Brexit are known.  Surely, in any walk of life, if something isn’t working you stop doing it before it is too late?

Yours faithfully

Richard Wilson
Secretary, Leeds for Europe​

Letters to Yorkshire MPs

Leeds for Europe have been writing to our local MPs setting out our red lines on the Brexit negotitions.  We would strongly encourage everyone to do the same.  You may want to use our letter as inspiration for your own.  It is available for download here:
Letter to MPs.pdf
Letter to MPs.doc