A TOP government minister has vowed that Edinburgh’s long-awaited multi-billion pound City Deal will not be threatened by Brexit.
Junior Scotland Office minister Andrew Dunlop told the Evening News the deal to boost investment in the Capital and the surrounding region was now “more important” than ever.
His comments come after opposition councillors insisted the “deep political instability” caused by the UK’s decision to exit the EU could throw the whole thing into chaos.
The City Region Deal aims to inject up to £2 billion of public money into the economy – with the potential to attract a further £5bn of private sector cash.
Lord Dunlop, who sits on the Tory benches in the House of Lords, said he was “absolutely” offering reassurance the deal would go ahead.
He met council leaders last week to discuss progress and insisted officials from both the UK and Scottish governments were working “very hard” behind the scenes.
He added: “It’s even more important that we press forward with City Deals [in the aftermath of Brexit]. Obviously, [with] the decision to exit the EU there are challenges we have got to manage.
“But there are massive opportunities as well. And really, City Deals are a way of making sure that every part of the UK is fit to really take advantage of the opportunities that arise.
“Theresa May has already made it clear that she wants to see plans developed for cities across the UK.
“This is a bottom-up process. So it’s the leaders in the Edinburgh City Region who have got to come forward with their proposition, and we and the Scottish Government will work with them to refine that, so we can actually go to the UK Treasury and the Scottish finance minister and say, ‘Look, we have a compelling case here, and we want you to back it’.”
He highlighted the city’s growing tech sector and world-famous festivals as two potential focuses of the deal, and hinted a local “tourist tax” could be one option under consideration.
But despite his strong backing, he was vague about timescales – insisting it was up to the council to push forward.
He said: “It is down to the partners in the Edinburgh City Region – how quickly they develop their proposals to a point that they are clear, substantial and robust. It’s at that point that we can really take it forward.”
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