Elton John tells culture secretary to end post-Brexit obstacles facing musicians

Sir Elton John

Sir Elton John - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

The culture secretary has been told by Elton John to end the obstacles facing UK-based musicians after Brexit.

The singer has claimed that up-and-coming acts hoping to tour the continent will be "up against a brick wall" of fresh "bureaucracy", "paperwork" and added finances.

"It's much more difficult for young artists to get this together because of all the red tape," he told the BBC. "Every country has these different rules, there's so much procedure to go through.

"People like myself are not really affected by it, we have a foundation of people who can look after it, it still has to be done but it's much easier," he continued.

"[But] we find ourselves in the situation because of Brexit, this has arisen. How do we fix this? How can we fix this?


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"I want the situation to be resolved, so that young people don't have the difficulties of trying to tour in Europe, because it will affect their careers, it will stunt their growth and their creativity."

The UK’s post-Brexit travel rules, which came into force at the beginning of the year, do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the EU

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SNP MP Owen Thompson also lobbied the government on the cause.

He said: “The government is very keen to blame the EU for the barriers being put in place for touring musicians, but Brexit was born and bred in the UK.

“Does the minister agree that the onus is on this Government to fix the abject failure in statecraft, and can he confirm what urgent steps are being taken to make sure touring musicians do not become yet another collateral damage of Brexit?”

Dowden responded: “Well, first of all I would like to reassure touring musicians and all of those in the creative industry, I know how important the opportunity to tour is for them and it’s something that I discussed just yesterday with Elton John. I’ve discussed it with many others.

“It is a vital part of them building their careers. That is why we have set up this working group with musicians so that we can find ways of supporting them to continue to tour, not just, I should say, in Europe, but across the whole of the world.

“I think there are huge opportunities for the industry.”

Culture Minister Nigel Huddleston also told the Commons: “The door always remains open should our European friends wish to reconsider our mutually beneficially proposals which would have allowed UK touring professionals to travel more easily but that they rejected.

“In the meantime, where visas apply, our agreement with the EU contains measures designed to make the necessary travel processes as smooth as possible.

“A working group has been set up by the Secretary of State to look at any obstacles which might face British performers seeking to tour, and we will continue to seek to co-operate with our European friends on this important issue.”

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