Over the last 18 months, the complications of leaving the EU have largely been theoretical (with many of us still believing it just simply won’t happen). Although as time passes, it’s becoming more clear that Britain can’t leave the EU and still be ‘European’ and the realities of our separation are starting to hit home.

“Not only did it offer a stage to show the world the creative brilliance of our city, but it led to real, bottom-line benefits in terms of our visitor economy and improvements to our infrastructure…”

The latest Brexit blow comes as the European Commission has announced to the UK government that British cities can no longer take part in the European Capital of Culture scheme –a project that fosters the contribution of cultural developments of cities. Established in 1985, the initiative has, to date, awarded more than 50 cities across the Europe, boosting their international profiles which ultimately, boost tourism in the area. Despite the UK being scheduled to host the event in 2023, political news site Politico has obtained a letter stating the British application should be “discontinued” due to the outcomes of our referendum vote. Candidate cities including Leeds, Nottingham, Dundee, Milton Keynes and Belfast/Derry are in the midst of preparing bids.

Although Britain won’t be invited back to take part in the scheme, controversially, the project is still open to other non-EU countries. Countries that are either part of the European Economic Area, the European Free Trade Association or are currently applying to become members of the EU can apply, however by the year 2023, the UK will no longer adhere to if Parliment follows through with a “hard Brexit.”

Writing for the Huffington Post, Liverpool’s mayor, Joe Anderson —which served as the capital in 2008—explains how the scheme benefited the area:

“Not only did it offer a stage to show the world the creative brilliance of our city, but it led to real, bottom-line benefits in terms of our visitor economy and improvements to our infrastructure… We saw 9.7 million visitors come to the city—an increase of a third—generating £754 million [$1 billion] for the local economy. Of the visitors surveyed 99% said they liked the general atmosphere and 97% felt welcome. Crucially, the research from academics at Liverpool University found that 85% of the city’s residents agreed that Liverpool was a better place to live in than before.”