Sir Elton John condemns Government over treatment of music industry post-Brexit

Sir Elton John has described the Government as “philistines” over the handling of the music industry post-Brexit.

The singer, 74, said he is “livid” about the lack of provision made for sections of the entertainment industry that rely on travel within the European Union.

New rules which came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc and have prompted fears touring artists will incur large fees in many of the countries they visit.

Speaking to the Observer, Sir Elton said: “I’m so angry. I’m livid about what the Government did when Brexit happened.

“They made no provision for the entertainment business, and not just for musicians, actors and film directors, but for the crews, the dancers, the people who earn a living by going to Europe.

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John said the new requirements will be ‘crucifying’ for new artists just starting to tour (Matt Crossick/PA)

“People like me can afford to go to Europe because we can get people to fill in the forms and get visas done, but what makes me crazy is that the entertainment business brings in £111 billion a year to this country and we were just tossed away.”

Sir Elton said that for budding artists just starting out, the costs of touring within the EU will be “crucifying”.

The Rocket Man singer last month met with Brexit minister Lord Frost and Craig Stanley, an agent at the Marshall Arts touring agency, to discuss the issue.

Asked why there had been resistance from the Government, Sir Elton added: “They are philistines. The Government are philistines. We’ve got used to governments – especially the British Government – just telling us lies every day, and I don’t feel okay with that.

“Look what they did with the NHS. After all that those people (staff) did during Covid, they give them a 1% increase. I find that extraordinary. I just can’t live with that. It makes me so angry.”

A Government spokeswoman said: “We want musicians and other creative professionals to be able to tour easily abroad.

“Short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK musicians are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits.

“However, we recognise the difficulties still being faced by the sector. That is why we are working closely with individual member states to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.”