Brexit fears: ‘Projects at risk in U-turn on replacing EU cash’

David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury.
David Gauke, chief secretary to the Treasury.
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MINISTERS have no plans to replace millions of pounds Yorkshire receives to support the economy from the European Union despite promises made during last year’s referendum, it can be revealed.

A senior Treasury Minister has also confirmed the Government will impose extra rules that tighten Whitehall’s grip on how EU funding is spent in Yorkshire ahead of Brexit.

Labour MP Dan Jarvis.

Labour MP Dan Jarvis.

YP Comment: Speak up or pay the price over Brexit. Yorkshire needs coherent voice

Vote Leave campaigners, including Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and International Development Secretary Priti Patel, signed a letter during the referendum campaigning promising areas which receive significant EU funding would not lose out if Britain voted to leave the EU.

In the aftermath of the referendum, the Government promised to honour funding agreements signed before Britain leaves.

But Chief Secretary to the Treasury David Gauke has now set out new rules which critics warn could be used to prevent projects going ahead.

I am concerned that Government Ministers have now gone back on their pledge to protect those in Yorkshire currently receiving EU funding.

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis

In response to questions from Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Mr Gauke also failed to make any commitment on replacing the financial help to English regions after Britain leaves the EU.

Yorkshire has historically been one of the biggest recipients of EU cash and was due to receive more than £600m in the current funding round.

Mr Jarvis said: “As Britain leaves the EU, the challenge is now to secure the best possible deal for the country and for us here in Yorkshire.

“Over the life of this Parliament, Yorkshire and the Humber was due to receive over £100m a year in funding from the EU. The fact that Boris Johnson and a dozen other Tory MPs felt the need to sign a letter pledging to protect this funding shows how important an issue this is.

“I am concerned that Government Ministers have now gone back on their pledge to protect those in Yorkshire currently receiving EU funding. Our transition out of the EU will be uncertain enough without the additional pressures of broken promises.

“The North of England was once the economic powerhouse of Britain. If, after Brexit, it is to become that again, the Government must guarantee the funding and so enable us to build for the future.”

In his response to Mr Jarvis’s parliamentary question on EU funding, Mr Gauke reiterates the Government’s commitment to honour funding agreements signed before Britain leaves the EU. But he adds that two conditions must be met – that they “are good value for money” and “are in line with domestic strategic policies”.

Mr Gauke fails to give any commitment beyond Brexit, saying: “Leaving the EU means we will want to take our own decisions about how to deliver the policy objectives previously targeted by EU funding.

“We will consult closely with stakeholders to review all EU funding schemes in the round, to ensure that any ongoing funding commitments best serve the UK‘s national interest, while ensuring appropriate investor certainty.”