Elton John has said that the UK’s Brexit negotiators “screwed up” a deal for British musicians and the broader music industry, and is calling for the government to re-enter negotiations.
Writing in the Guardian, John said: “Either the Brexit negotiators didn’t care about musicians, or didn’t think about them, or weren’t sufficiently prepared. They screwed up. It’s ultimately down to the British government to sort it out: they need to go back and renegotiate.
“The situation we’re currently in is ridiculous. Music is one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports. It’s a £5.8bn industry that got left out of the Brexit trade negotiations when others weren’t.”
His remarks come as pressure increases on the government to negotiate visa-free working arrangements for performers and professionals across the British creative industries. Culture minister Caroline Dinenage is set to face questions as MPs debate the issue on Monday, following a public petition signed by 280,000 people entitled “Seek Europe-wide visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists”.
Musicians are currently unable to tour Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, but as soon as they can, they will face new paperwork and costs. Previously, a musician could tour freely throughout the EU, but now must secure a visa or work permit for each country they want to perform in, depending on the rules set by each country. Another cost is a “carnet”, a list of goods such as musical instruments that are allowed to cross borders.