The Government appears to have launched a bid for Britain to be declared the European capital of irony in response to the latest Brexit setback.
Ministers were apparently completely blindsided by news that Britain won’t be able to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023 – a full four years after we’re due to leave the EU.
Milton Keynes was one of five UK cities bidding for the honour which comes with £1.5 million in EU funding.
The Tory MP for the city, Iain Stewart, claimed the EU was “turning their backs on us” – despite having himself voted Leave:
I've heard the EU will no longer be accepting UK cities for the Capital of Culture. Seems a very bitter decision, we are not turning our backs on Europe yet this is looks like they are turning their backs on us. I will be seeking urgent clarification from DCLG.
— Iain Stewart MP (@iainastewart) November 23, 2017
The relevant Tory minister, who in fairness voted Remain, then called it a “crazy” decision:
Crazy decision by European Commission over Capital of Culture 2023. We’re leaving the EU – not Europe! My team at DCMS are speaking with the 5 cities right now on the way forward
— John Glen MP (@JohnGlenUK) November 23, 2017
Theresa May also declared herself “disappointed”. The mystery here must be why this has come as a surprise to them.
Glen’s own department told bidding cities last year that the title “may be subject to the outcome to the outcome of exit negotiations”:
But DCMS acknowledges last year in a memo that this could become entangled in Brexit negotiations: pic.twitter.com/BNInlTKoxG
— Faisal Islam (@faisalislam) November 23, 2017
And the rules clearly state that only only members or candidate countries of the EU and EEA are allowed to take part in the scheme.
Perhaps the Government could take inspiration from this year’s European Capital Culture, Aarhus.
Their slogan is: ‘Let’s rethink’…