Elton John joins blistering attack on the Tories for ‘shamefully failing’ performers with Brexit deal

Elton John

Elton John has joined more than 100 musicians in lambasting the Tories for “shamefully failing” performers with their Brexit deal.

In an open letter published by The Times, Elton John, Queen’s Brian May, Ed Sheeran and a number of other high-profile musicians hit out at the government’s Brexit deal, saying it had failed to deliver on promises for performers who tour in Europe.

The letter, organised by the Liberal Democrats, claims that the Brexit deal will make it too expensive for musicians to perform in the European Union, with a host of costs making the process cumbersome and challenging.

“British musicians, dancers, actors and their support staff have been shamefully failed by their government,” the letter reads.

It goes on to claim that the Brexit deal has left a “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”, meaning that UK-based musicians touring in Europe will have to deal with “costly work permit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment”.

Elton John and other musicians demand better support for UK-based musicians in Brexit deal.

These costs will make many tours “unviable,” the letter says, particularly for “young emerging musicians who are already struggling to keep their heads above water owing to the COVID ban on live music”.

“This negotiations failure will tip many performers over the edge,” the letter reads.

For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal.

“We urge the government to do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment.

“For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal.”

Following the letter’s publication the government appeared to confirm it will not pursue a “musician passport” scheme.

Digital and culture minister Caroline Dinenage told parliament Tuesday (20 January) that “the door is open” for future negotiations between the UK and the EU on touring, but that Britain’s aims “wouldn’t be about a waiver but about facilitation”, the Guardian reported.

The European Union and British negotiators failed to reach agreement on plans that would allow UK-based performers to continue touring without prohibitive costs, with both teams blaming the other for the breakdown.

Michel Barnier, EU chief Brexit negotiator, said this week that Britain does not have the “same ambition” on the mobility of artists that the EU has.

However, the UK government has insisted that EU plans “would not have worked” and would have prevented support staff from touring without incurring fees.