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UK government accused of more “spin and misinformation” over Brexit touring crisis


Notable figures from the music industry have accused the UK government of yet another “non-announcement” made up from little more than “spin and misinformation,” while arguing that little progress has been made in regards to solving the Brexit touring fiasco which could leave thousands of UK musicians unable to tour the EU.

The criticism comes after the government failed to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew, threatening the very future of touring for UK artists. The difficulties facing touring musicians remain more than a year after the UK left the EU. Not only has the lack of visa-free travel for musicians touring the continent created huge costs for both musicians and crew, but it also poses a threat to up-and-coming talent, who may not be able to afford the tour costs.

The government have also been forced to introduce a set of new post-Brexit rules which have meant that a “massive” amount of jobs and taxable income has been lost to the EU due to it making touring “nigh-on impossible” for the road crew. Trucks travelling from the UK are only allowed to make one stop in an EU and have just seven days to make two more stops in other states before being forced to return home.

In August, the government said that “short term” visa-free travel without work permits would be available to musicians and performers across 19 European countries. A backlash quickly ensued, with industry professionals accusing the government of “spin and meaningless posturing”. Granted that these rules were already in place pre-Brexit, it would seem that little progress had been made to solve the biggest issues facing UK touring performers. In light of the news that one in three music industry jobs have been lost during the pandemic, the government’s response to the ongoing crisis appears half-arsed at best.

Despite the UK government’s victorious announcement that it has secured visas for over 20 EU states after adding Romania to the list, Ian Smith of the #CarryOnTouring campaign remains unconvinced: “This time, all they’ve done is change it from 19 to 20 countries after I told them that Romania had an allowance,” he stated in a recent interview.

“It does not at all address the fact that nothing whatsoever has been done proactively in terms of creating any dialogue for bilateral agreements,” he added. “They’ve merely repeated again what is true for all third-country nationals across the world. It is not specific to the UK or UK creatives. These are the rules that have applied for years to all third-country nationals. Confusion remains over rules for road crew. They haven’t lifted a finger in terms of anything in this so-called ‘announcement'”.