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Conservatives will deliver 'best Brexit deal for the arts', says digital minister

Matt Hancock pours scorn on Labour’s £1bn culture pledge and promises a review of UK export regulations

by Martin Bailey  |  17 May 2017
Conservatives will deliver 'best Brexit deal for the arts', says digital minister
Matt Hancock, minister for digital and culture, (left) with John Kampfner, chief executive of the Creative Industries Federation, at a general election Q&A held at Havas advertising HQ, London
Matt Hancock, the UK minister for digital and culture, has promised that the government’s Brexit negotiators will support the interests of the creative industries. Speaking at a pre-election meeting organised by the Creative Industries Federation, he said only the Conservatives could deliver “the best possible Brexit deal”. Although he personally wanted to remain in the European Union, he believes that the democratic vote expressed in last year’s referendum must prevail.

Talking after the meeting with The Art Newspaper, Hancock was critical of the Labour Party’s manifesto pledge for a £1 billion five-year Cultural Capital Fund. “If you don’t know how you will pay for your manifesto commitments, then it isn’t worth the paper that it is written on”, he said. “Through the Lottery and the Arts Council, taxpayers are already funding to support the development of the arts. We can see the success of that.”

When asked about the need for reforms to the UK export regulations, Hancock expressed concerns about the present system—and promised a review. He told The Art Newspaper: “We are asking how the system operates, especially in the light of recent cases which have been difficult. I want to look at all the evidence and hear everyone’s views before coming forward with any proposals.”

The most “difficult” recent example has been Pontormo’s Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap (1530), which the National Gallery failed to buy earlier this year after it had successfully raised £30.7m. The new American owner, New York hedge funder Tom Hill, refused to accept a matching offer for the export-deferred painting because of an unfavourable change in exchange rates after Brexit. The Pontormo therefore remains in storage in the UK.


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