Brexit means Nottingham will not be 2023 European Capital of Culture

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"We will do our utmost to persuade the UK Government of the importance of continuing to participate in European partnerships like the European Capital of Culture and in that vein I would urge you to reconsider this decision".

But Martine Richards, director-general in the Commission's education and culture department, who wrote the letter, said the U.K.is no longer eligible because the scheme is only open to European Union countries, candidate countries and members of the EEA.

Cities from non-EU countries have previously held the title but it must be a candidate to join or must be in the European Free Trade Association or the European Economic Area.

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.

"I am extremely angry that the European Commission has taken the unfair and unjustified decision to exclude United Kingdom cities including Nottingham from bidding to become the European City of Culture in 2023".

"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".

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

Scotland's Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop has written to her United Kingdom counterpart seeking urgent answers on how ministers will resolve the exclusion of Dundee from the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition.

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"Given that the United Kingdom will have left the EU by 29 March 2019, and therefore be unable to host the European Capital of Culture in 2023, we believe it makes common sense to discontinue the selection process now".

"We remain committed to working with the five United Kingdom cities that have submitted bids to help them realise their cultural ambitions and we are in urgent discussions with the Commission on the matter".

Colum Eastwood, leader of the SDLP, said his party had written to the EU Commission to ask that the Belfast-Derry-Strabane bid be treated "as a special case".

They added that the United Kingdom wants to continue work with Europe to "promote the long-term economic development of our continent" and added the department will carry on working with those in the United Kingdom who made bids.

But the European Commission, the executive arm of the soon-to-be 27-nation EU, said it had sent a letter to the British culture ministry yesterday saying that it was no longer possible.

Labour's Tom Watson, the shadow culture secretary, some cities had already spent up to $665,000 on their bid submissions.

The only two previous British cities were Glasgow in 1990 and Liverpool in 2008.

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