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Post-Brexit regional funding?
My article in last week’s Cornish Guardian considers what the UK Government’s post-Brexit approach to regional funding could mean for Cornwall.
The political chaos around Brexit continues and it really does emphasise the dysfunctional nature of the Westminster Parliament. It is little wonder that so many people consider our politics to be broken.

I am getting particularly irritated by the many MPs and political activists who are repeatedly calling for a General Election, as if that would somehow end the present impasse between divided political parties. What nonsense.

It would be fair to say that I often write about regional policy, but again I find it so frustrating that, at this time of great discord, the Prime Minister and the UK Government are failing to properly address what Brexit will mean for Cornwall and other deprived areas, which just happen to be located many, many miles from the corridors of power in London.

In one of the numerous parliamentary debates which took place last week, the Prime Minister was challenged about post-EU regional funding. In her response, she acknowledged that funds had been “available from the European Union for different parts of the country” and went on to add that a future “Shared Prosperity Fund” will be “available” to different parts of the country!

Such a deliberately vague answer – which did not pledge actual funding to the poorest parts of the UK – does a great disservice to campaigners seeking economic fairness.

But just days before, Mebyon Kernow’s sister party in Wales, Plaid Cymru, had launched a hard-hitting report on this matter titled “Not a Penny Less.”

The report opens with a simple statement that said: “The Vote Leave campaign promised that Wales wouldn’t lose a penny if we left the European Union. In fact they said there would be a Brexit dividend.” We all know that similar promises were made about Cornwall around the time of the referendum.

“Not a Penny Less” notes that there has been no consultation on the proposed Shared Prosperity Fund, through which funds will be allocated post-Brexit, and rightly condemns the alarming “lack of information and forward planning on this essential funding stream.”

It notes how EU structural funds have been an “important investment in skills and infrastructure” but that “on their own they are not sufficient to transform the Welsh economy, as shown in the past twenty years.”

It concludes that the “replacement of the European Structural Funds with the Shared Prosperity Fund is an opportunity for much more substantial investment that could be genuinely transformational and reduce inequality between communities. This would involve a far greater sum of funding from the UK Government than that currently provided by the European Union and match funding.”

But the question is: will Westminster do the right thing for places like Cornwall and Wales?
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By Dick Cole. Published on 14th April 2019.

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