Brexiteer Roger Daltrey and other UK pop superstars raise alarm over post-Brexit music tours

From the Beatles' Merseybeat, through Punk Rock, New Wave, and BritPop, music has been one of the UK's most successful exports, and cultural contributions to, the European continent and the wider world.

The British government, however, appears to have scored an own-goal by scuppering a deal to allow visa-free access to the EU to the country's musicians.

In a letter to The Times newspaper published on Wednesday, prominent musicians including Ed Sheeran, Sting, Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters, and classical music conductor Simon Rattle, said the government had “shamefully” broke a promise to negotiate a deal allowing musicians to perform in the European Union without the need for visas or work permits.

They called for a reciprocal deal allowing paperwork-free travel for both British and European touring artists.

“The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be: everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment,” they wrote.

One of the consequences of Brexit, which fully took effect on December 31st, is that British and EU citizens can no longer freely travel, work and live in each other’s territories.

Other signatories to the letter included The Sex Pistols, Iron Maiden, Joss Stone, Radiohead, Elton John, Bob Geldof and Queen’s Brian May and Roger Taylor.

Roger Daltrey, lead singer of The Who, himself and an outspoken Brexiteer who previously dismissed concerns about tours after Brexit, was also on the list.

On the classical side, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, who performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, was joined by violinist Nicola Benedetti and composer Judith Weir, holder of post of Master of the Queen’s Music.

“The extra costs will make many tours unviable, especially for young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the COVID ban on live music,” the musicians wrote.

Under the deal agreed by London and Brussels in December, British musicians will be able to tour in EU countries without a visa for up to 90 days in any 180-day period, but will need work permits to perform in some countries like Germany and Spain.

New rules on road haulage mean British trucks have to return to Britain after two laden journeys in the EU, making the standard touring model for British bands and ensembles impossible, according to the Association of British Orchestras.

Image: via Wikipedia

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