Three of the South West’s MEPs – Molly Scott Cato, Clare Moody and Julie Girling – have signed a letter to the prime minister asking her to urgently bring forward a proposal to replace the funding provided for Cornwall by the European Regional Development Fund. The fund provides almost half a billion euros of investment into Cornwall for research and innovation; to address climate change and support green energy; and provide finance for small and medium sized enterprises.
The government has previously pledged to commit more money to areas of the country that have been left out of the economic prosperity enjoyed by London and the South East through a ‘Shared Prosperity Fund’. However no plan has been issued and a promised consultation has been repeatedly delayed.
The letter, signed by 16 MEPs, points to ‘consternation amongst local authorities and third-sector organisations in the regions we represent’ over the government’s inability to replace funding:
Leaving the EU will only deepen the already shocking inequality that is a blight on our communities. We believe that remaining in the EU is the only good deal for our communities. But, if the UK does leave the EU at the end of next month, we call on you urgently to bring forward a proposal to replace this funding, while fully respecting the competences of the devolved governments.
Commenting on the letter to Theresa May which she coordinated, Molly said:
“MEPs acknowledge just how much the EU has done for some of our most deprived regions. For areas like Cornwall the EU offers their greatest source of funding. Were the UK to remain in the EU, the country would be entitled to €13bn of regional development funding between 2021 and 2027. This increase of some 22% compared to the current period shows the incredible regional disparities that have occurred under a Tory government.
“Promises of future funding streams to replace EU funds amount to nothing more than warm words and it has become clear that some of the UK’s most deprived communities, such as those in Cornwall, are set to suffer disproportionately from the government’s Brexit shambles.
“Many people in Cornwall have changed their minds over our EU membership. They now need to be given an opportunity to vote on the reality of Brexit through a People’s Vote.”