IT looks like the gloves are off now in Europe.
In the UK/EU divorce proceedings there are many things to be sorted out - they’re not going to be easy and their repercussions could be far-reaching and long-standing.
But that we want to “stay friends” has thus far been politely agreed by all sides.
The UK does not want to leave Europe, but did vote to come out of the EU. This distinction should be easy enough for anyone to grasp in Brussels.
Now it looks like, as in many a divorce, things have taken a turn for the petty. Words are being said that can’t be un-said, there’s an air of the veiled threat being made.
If the EU wants us (and the other UK cities that have spent time and taxpayers’ money putting together these bids) out of its Culture Club, then it should have made that clear long before now and not waited until after the bids were in.
For the EU director-general for Education and Culture to wait until now to write a Dear John to the head of our Department for Culture, Media and Sport is as sneaky a piece of brinkmanship as we have seen thus far in the EU/UK divorce negotiations.
A lot of time and effort has gone into putting this bid together - as well as money from taxpayers’ and local businesses. Leeds has been talking about this bid, long before the referendum on whether or not to leave the EU was held.
If there had been any hint before now that it would “not be possible” for the UK to participate in the Capital of Culture process once we have withdrawn from the EU then surely the bid would not have gone ahead.
Our civic leaders have made it plain that time and again they sought reassurance that there would be no repercussions from the Brexit vote as far as the 2023 process was concerned.
But it’s not just civic leaders and the UK Government that have been slapped in the face by this surprise letter from the Luxembourgish DG - it’s the people in community groups and organisations in Leeds, the volunteers, the ordinary folk who have given hours of their time, their passion and their energies into creating this bid.
Like sprouts with Christmas dinner the Capital of Culture Bid was not to everyone’s taste. But the EU WILL have to answer to every one of you for this piece of Euro-spite.