Aisha Iqbal: Brexit is the mother of all messy divorces - and Leeds is like a poor child stuck in the middle

A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London.  Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
A road traffic sign is in front of the Union Jack and the European Union flag hanging outside Europe House in Smith Square, London. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
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News today that European officials have told the Government UK cities won’t be allowed to bid for the European Capital of Culture in 2023 is heartbreaking for Leeds’s own hopes for the lucrative title.

Much will be written on the financial and other implications of the bureaucratic u-turn in coming days, and I’m sure there will be plenty of mud slung.

But the immediate thought that came to my mind was that the European Commission’s timing of the announcement read exactly like the bitter one-upmanship and nastiness that pervades all messy divorce battles.

And who are the ones that suffer? The poor children stuck in the middle.

That’s exactly what Leeds, all the other bidding cities and the hundreds of wonderful, creative and passionate people who have helped put Leeds’s bid together will be feeling today.

There have been no winners so far in the ongoing Brexit talks debacle, and there aren’t going to be any for a very long time.

There’s a flicker of hope in me that all this is just bluster and brinkmanship, and the Capital of Culture bid can still be pulled back from the abyss.

It has to be noted, however. that this newspaper started asking questions about the future of the #Leeds2023 bid straight after the EU referendum result and was told everything would be ok. It’s taken almost 18 months for this announcement, and the fact it comes just weeks after Leeds submitted its official bid makes it an even more bitter pill to swallow.

Like much of the Brexit process so far, I fear this has been a huge case of head-in-the-sand syndrome from our friends at Whitehall.

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