Dundee’s MSPs have written to the prime minister demanding that money spent on the Capital of Culture 2023 bid is reimbursed.
The European Commission made a “bombshell” announcement on Thursday banning UK cities from competing in the European Capital of Culture 2023 competition because of Brexit.
Dundee’s chances of winning the title were effectively wiped out with the stroke of a pen, just days before a delegation was due to head to London to pitch their bid to be named the UK’s entry.
Now, the city’s Holyrood representatives have written to the prime minister Theresa May asking for money invested in the project to be returned to the city because of the “shambles” caused by the Tories’ Brexit.
Dundee East and West MSPs Shona Robison and Joe Fitzpatrick have asked the UK Government to do all it possibly can to reverse the Commission’s decision.
Their joint statement said: “We are all proud to represent the truly European city of Dundee. Despite the UK regrettably voting to leave the European Union – a vote that we fully respect – the people of Scotland and Dundee in particular voted overwhelmingly to remain within the EU.
“We accept that the vote was taken throughout the UK as a whole, however, it does not seem fair that the people of Dundee are being punished for a vote that they had no control over.
“We ask that the UK Government divulges the timeline of events, including all communication with the European Commission regarding the competition and when the UK Government became aware that we were no longer possible contenders.
“We jointly request, that you do all in your power to reverse the decision of the European Commission.
“Regrettably, if this decision is final and the bid is no longer viable then we ask that the UK Government does not punish the people of Dundee and refunds all monies incurred with the bid.”
A further letter, addressed to European Commission culture commissioner Tibor Navracsics, pleads with the authority to reconsider its position regarding on the Capital of Culture bid.
The statement, signed by the city’s two MSPs, Chris Law MP, Stewart Hosie MP, the council’s SNP administration leader Councillor John Alexander and MEP Ian Hudghton said: “It is our understanding that non-EU cities have been named European Capital of Culture in the past – namely Bergen, Reykjavík, Stavanger and Istanbul.
“We would be very grateful if this decision could be reconsidered to allow Dundee to participate in the European Capital of Culture 2023 bid. Dundee and Scotland remain European, despite being dragged out of the EU against our will.”
Meanwhile, the Convention for Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) has passed a motion noting the enormous benefits international cultural engagement can bring.
It also notes that the Scottish Government wrote to the UK Government last year seeking reassurances that the UK would continue to participate in partnerships, such as the European Capital of Culture, and expresses concern at the amount of time, effort and expense the Dundee team have put in to scoping out a bid which has been wasted thanks to the Brexit policy of the UK Government.