Belfast and Londonderry rocked as European Union rejects United Kingdom cities as 'cultural capitals'

Wroclaw in Poland the European Capital of Culture last year

"As the prime minister said, we are leaving the European Union; we are not leaving Europe".

"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".

The EU started the European Capital of Culture scheme in 1985, and now names two cities a year.

"This is deeply disappointing for the people of the two cities (Belfast and Londonderry) and for those who have worked so hard to progress the joint bid", he said.

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: "We are hugely frustrated by the European Commission's apparent proposal to remove the opportunity for a United Kingdom city to host the European Capital of Culture title in 2023".

The UK has also already started five bids for the competition in Leeds, Nottingham, Milton Keynes, Dundee and a joint bid from Belfast and Derry.

"It is now deeply concerning that the amount of time, effort and expense Dundee have put into scoping out their bid could be wasted thanks to the Brexit policy of the United Kingdom government", Scotland's culture secretary Fiona Hyslop said.

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The city will not be considered for the award after the European Commission said it "would not be possible".

Brussels emphasised that the European Capital of Culture can't be in the United Kingdom, which would preclude Belfast and Derry as they fall under British jurisdiction.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is "absolutely dismayed" about the fate of Dundee's bid and blamed the "Tories' obsession with taking this country out of the European Union against our will".

A spokesman for Dundee City Council said the local authority was "urgently" seeking clarification on the matter.

"According to the rules adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, this action is not open to third countries except candidate countries and European Free Trade Association/European Economic Area countries". Liverpool was the last British city to be...

"We want to continue working with our friends in Europe to promote the long-term economic development of our continent, which may include participating in cultural programmes".

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

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