Leading musicians criticise Government over Brexit deal’s impact on touring

Sir Elton John, Roger Waters and Ed Sheeran are among the leading music industry figures who have criticised the Government’s Brexit deal for not including visa-free travel for musicians.

More than 100 stars, from pop singers to classical composers, signed a letter saying performers have been “shamefully failed” by the post-Brexit travel rules.

The letter, published in The Times and backed by Sting, prominent Brexiteer Roger Daltrey, Liam Gallagher and Queen’s Brian May, says there is a “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”.

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran

The resulting costs for work permits and other red tape 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 signatories argue.

The letter adds: “This negotiating failure will tip many performers over the edge.”

It urges the Government to “do what it said it would do” and negotiate paperwork-free travel to Europe for British artists and their equipment.

The deal should be reciprocal, the letter says.

This week a minister said “the door is open” if the EU was willing to “consider the UK’s very sensible proposals” on visa arrangements for musicians.

Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said the EU rejected the UK’s plan, but said the Government is willing to discuss the situation again.

Ms Dinenage said a 90-day visa-free travel period for musicians was not offered by the EU, contrary to previous reports.

An online petition calling for a visa-free travel cultural work permit with the EU has so far attracted more than 263,000 signatures.