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Home / News / Musicians share anger at rejection of Brexit “visa-free” touring deal

Musicians share anger at rejection of Brexit “visa-free” touring deal


Musicians have shared their anger online after news that the UK government has reportedly rejected a “visa-free” touring deal as part of Brexit negotiations.

Yesterday (January 9), it was reported that the UK have turned down a deal from the EU that would allow musicians to enter countries that belong to the union without a visa.

Boris Johnson‘s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU saw workers from some professions allowed to travel on business without the need to apply for a visa. However, musicians were not covered in the deal, adding huge costs to tours of the continent.

  • READ MORE: “It’s going to be devastating” – here’s how Brexit will screw over British touring artists

A new report from the Independent states that the proposal, which would exempt performers from needing a visa to enter countries in the EU for trips under 90 days, was turned down by the government.

The UK are reported to have turned down the offer because they do not want to give the same freedoms to EU artists visiting the UK.

Reacting to the news on social media, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called the government “spineless fucks” over the decision, while Portishead‘s Geoff Barrow launched the hashtag “BorisKilledMusic”.

“Unbelievable,” Lily Allen added of the news on Twitter. “Actually, completely believable!” Shame added: “TODAY IN: THE LEAST SURPRISING NEWS EVER”.

“I think we are owed an explanation,” Tim Burgess added, tagging the accounts for the Prime Minister, Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden.

The Musician’s Union also voiced their frustration at the news today (January 10), posting a statement on Twitter. “We are angry and alarmed at reports that our own elected representatives chose to turn down an EU offer of visa-free touring by British musicians, after reassurances that our £101.5bn #CreativeArts and £5.8bn #MusicIndustry were a priority,” the tweet was captioned.

An official statement from MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge read: “With the British music business having been devastated by Covid-19 and with no end in sight to the black hole of cancelled concerts, tours, festivals and regular gigs that is the very bedrock of our world-class industry, the news, if true, that our own elected representatives chose to turn down such an offer is nigh-on unbelievable.”

In further tweets, the Union called on the Culture Minister to “urgently confirm one way or another whether it was the UK Government that blocked the deal,” stating that they are currently “briefing MPs to ask the Government about #WorkingInTheEU, and for genuine support for musicians who are still falling through gaps in #Covid19 financial assistance.”

The MU added: “Government must support the #MusiciansPassport, and #InvestInMusicians.”

See more reactions to the news below.

A petition was launched after details of the deal and what it meant for musicians emerged last year. It called on the government to “negotiate a free cultural work permit that gives us visa-free travel throughout the 27 EU states for music touring professionals, bands, musicians, artists, TV and sports celebrities that tour the EU to perform shows and events and carnet exception for touring equipment”.

A government spokesperson previously told NME that it was Brussels that had rejected the idea of allowing artists to tour the EU on a visa-free basis. “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,” they said.

In other Brexit news, Labour Party leader Kier Starmer has backtracked on his party’s plan to return free movement to the EU, calling the proposition “unrealistic”.

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