Newcastle North MP, Catherine McKinnell, has challenged the Prime Minister on the future of EU funding destined for the region, following the outcome of last week’s referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union.
The North East is a net recipient of EU funds, and has been entitled to receive more European funding than any other English region – with £157million from the European Social Fund and £255million from the European Regional Development Fund alone paid to the North East in the period 2007-2013, which has been invested in key regeneration projects, skills, job creation and business growth. Over the next five years, the region was due to receive a further £726million from the EU.
Speaking during David Cameron’s statement to the House of Commons yesterday (27th June), Catherine asked:
‘Over the next five years, the North East was due to receive £726million in EU funding.
‘Will the Prime Minister give some much-needed reassurance to our regions currently relying on hundreds of millions of pounds of EU funding that they will still receive the same amount from Whitehall?’
In response, the Prime Minister said:
‘Obviously, I cannot give that assurance today, but we heard during the campaign from those who were arguing we should leave that we ought to try to do everything we can to help disadvantaged areas of the country – those in receipt of grants, farmers and the rest of it – with the best situation we can. I am sure that that is what will happen.’
Commenting afterwards, Catherine said:
‘I campaigned hard for a Remain vote, because I believe our membership of the EU is clearly in the best interests of Newcastle and the North East.
‘The Prime Minister may be convinced that our region won’t lose out on much-needed investment on leaving the EU, but I am not.
‘We’ve already seen the Leave campaign’s promises unravel by the day, with the commitment to provide hundreds of millions of pounds of additional funding to the NHS not worth the bus it was clearly printed on.
‘I will be fighting vigorously to ensure the North East gets the best possible outcome from last week’s disappointing result, but it’s increasingly evident we will be part of a very long queue.’