The EU is to blame for British musicians not being able to tour in Europe, Jacob Rees-Mogg has attempted to claim.
Rees-Mogg shrugged off accusations Downing Street rejected an offer to extend the EU music visa scheme that allowed artists to perform freely in Europe for up to 90 days.
Earlier this week, culture minister Caroline Dinenage admitted the government declined the EU’s proposals in favour of tougher border measures.
“It’s quite simple, the EU, in fact, made a very broad offer which would not have been compatible with the government’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders,” she said.
Rees-Mogg echoed those remarks during his weekly business statement in the Commons on Thursday.
“The position on musicians is extraordinarily clear,” the Commons leader moaned. “Her Majesty’s government said during negotiations, we made proposals that would have allowed musicians to travel and perform in the UK and the EU easily without work permits based on input from UK music and the musicians union.
“The EU rejected these proposals, therefore musicians are in the position they are in because the EU rejected those proposals.”
But EU officials told the Independent it was the UK that was unprepared for a compromise.
A “standard” proposal to exempt performers from the huge cost and bureaucracy for 90 days was turned down because the government insisted on denying that to EU artists visiting this country, the paper was told.
“It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no,” an EU source close to the negotiations said.
“The UK refused to agree because they said they were ending freedom of movement. It is untrue to say they asked for something more ambitious,” the source said, adding “there has to be reciprocity”.
One Twitter user posted: “Brexit is just a shot in our own foot, he knows it, we all know it except the people who voted for it.”
Another added: “Well into the next phase of Brexit with these people. Blaming the opposite side for the consequences of their core idea.”