A new report claims that the UK government rejected a deal with the EU that would have allowed musicians to tour without a visa. If accepted, the deal would have saved artists from prohibitive costs and extra bureaucracy, which have been the focal points for ongoing fears about Brexit’s impact on the UK music industry.
The “standard” proposal to provide a 90-day exemption for performers was turned down, the Independent reports, with an EU source saying: “It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that (work) visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no.” The report adds that the UK government turned the deal down because they insisted on denying similar rights to EU artists wanting to visit the country, as part of Priti Patel’s “disastrous” immigration crackdown.
A UK government spokesperson has denied the claims, reiterating the original statement: “The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.”
Nevertheless, many musicians have lashed out at the government for its lack of transparency when dealing with the livelihoods of touring musicians and crew post-Brexit. Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has called the UK “spineless” in a tweet about the claims, while Portishead’s Geoff Barrow popularised the hashtag #BorisKilledMusic.
Other musicians have expressed their anger, added to outrage at the government’s continued lack of empathy towards the UK’s creative industries during the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen them suggest that those impacted should simply retrain. Lily Allen and Shame are among those that have pointed out that we shouldn’t really be surprised if the UK government did reject the deal.
“Unbelievable, actually, completely believable!” Allen wrote in a tweet.
An ongoing petition demanding that the UK government seeks a Europe-wide, visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists has gained more than 200,000 signatures since it was shared in late December last year. The petition has been backed by Laura Marling, Dua Lipa, The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess, and more.