Tories and Labour clash over Yorkshire’s EU cash

Chancellor Philip Hammond and fellow members of the cabinet were in Halifax
Chancellor Philip Hammond and fellow members of the cabinet were in Halifax
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CHANCELLOR PHILIP Hammond has claimed the Conservatives’ planned “prosperity fund” will do more for the region’s economy than the millions Yorkshire currently receives from Brussels.

But former Labour leader Ed Miliband has branded it a betrayal in the absence of a clear figure from the Conservatives on how much Yorkshire will receive.

The Conservative manifesto, launched in Halifax this week, sketched out plans to set up a UK Prosperity Fund to replace European money, known as structural funds and currently worth around £100m a year to Yorkshire.

Mr Hammond said: “The idea here is to create a fund which will allow us to target strategic challenges across the UK and specifically to deal with the disparities in economic development and growth and prosperity across the country and create this prosperity fund which will essentially take the released money that would have been our subscriptions into the EU that would have come back to us through structural funding.”

Speaking during an election campaign visit to York with Conservative candidate Ed Young, Mr Hammond added: “There should be more money getting through to the front end because the way the EU distributes money is highly bureaucratic, multi-tiers of governance, so we think we can do it much more efficiently and effectively from doing it within the UK and it will allow us to plan around UK priorities rather than EU-decided priorities.”

During the EU referendum campaign senior Conservative Leave supporters signed a letter promising regions which benefit from EU cash would not lose out from Brexit.

Mr Miliband, who is defending the Doncaster North seat he has held since 2005, criticised the lack of detail in the Conservative proposal as he campaigned in Morley and Outwood with Labour candidate Neil Dawson.

He compared the issue to the controversy surrounding the £350m-a-week for the NHS slogan on the Leave campaign bus.

“They put the £350m on the bus, and they are betraying it. They said they would guarantee the regional funds and they are betraying that as well.

“I am clear that Brexit is happening, Labour’s clear in its manifesto Brexit is happening but what kind of Brexit is it going to be? Is it a Brexit that starves the regions of the funds we used to get from Europe, that reduces workers’ rights and the like, or is it one that makes things better for people?” he said.

Labour has pledged it would ensure regions receive current levels of EU funding into the 2020s and beyond.