Chancellor Rishi Sunak confirmed that millions of pounds are to be spent on a Brexit festival marking the UK’s departure from the European Union.
Opponents of Brexit attacked the pledge, made in Mr Sunak’s spending review, arguing that devoting public cash to the event showed “shameful priorities” during the coronavirus pandemic.
But the festival organisers hope the festival will bring the country together following the divisions of the EU referendum.
The idea originated under Theresa May’s premiership when it was announced £120 million would be spent on the celebration, which was nicknamed the Brexit Festival.
The event now goes under the title Festival UK and the amount earmarked for it has reduced.
‘Celebrate what it means to be British’
In his spending review, Mr Sunak said £150m would be spent on a series of events including Festival UK, the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham and the Queen’s 2022 Platinum Jubilee.
Officials have described it as a “series of show-stopping events to showcase the best of British art, culture and tech”.
They also said it will “boost national pride and celebrate what it means to be British”.
But SNP Brexit spokeswoman Dr Philippa Whitford MP said: “It speaks volumes of the Tories’ shameful priorities that in the middle of a global pandemic and recession it has found around £29 million for its Brexit festival – a celebration of diminished rights and worse-off living standards.
“It is also telling that it comes not long after the Tories insisted there was no money at all to feed hungry kids through free school meals and as the Chancellor slashes public sector pay.
“This is a Tory government with all the wrong priorities. Scotland can do so much better than a Boris Johnson government it did not vote for.
“The only way to properly protect our interests and promote our progressive values is by becoming an independent country.”
The Treasury has been approached for comment.