Labor plans to open its own talks on a “new deal” with the EU to end the post-Brexit crisis, forcing musicians to give up touring, pressuring the government to finally act.
Brussels will be invited to relaunch its offer of visa-free tours across the EU for creative artists and to remove huge new fees and red tape for transporting material, The independent can reveal.
Keir Starmer’s party has been criticized for its reluctance to reopen the wounds of Brexit by pledging to fill the gaps in Boris Johnson’s skeleton trade deal, but will now take its own initiative to save tours.
Shadow Labor Minister of Culture Alison McGovern said: “The job for us now – given what the Conservatives have failed to do – is to go have these hands-on conversations.”
The move has been hailed as a potential breakthrough by renowned musicians, if it pushes ministers to abandon their refusal to negotiate a visa waiver program, which the UK rejected last year.
Talk to The independentAward-winning singer-songwriter Katie Melua praised the “moves towards a solution,” while Joff Oddie, guitarist for the award-winning rock band Mercury Wolf Alice, urged the government to listen to “a problem that could make or break the UK music industry ”.
The Society of Musicians warned that artists are “professionally crippled” – with many tours “unsustainable” – during a parliamentary inquiry: “We are concerned that our industry is at serious risk due to Brexit “.
His survey revealed an alarming picture where only 43 percent of touring musicians plan to visit the EU in the future and 42 percent would consider leaving the UK in order to pursue their careers.
Mr Johnson has made a high-profile pledge to ‘fix’ the crisis, but the minister responsible for this – David Frost, the Brexit minister – appeared to wash his hands of the controversy and declined to say it would be resolved.
Ministers were then convicted, including by Elton John, for falsely claiming that 19 of the 27 EU countries offered visa-free and work permit-free access, when severe restrictions still exist.
Elton John said on Friday he was “on the warpath” in the face of failing to end the crisis, accusing the PM of snubbing his request for a meeting.
Now Ms McGovern has revealed Labor’s plans to end the impasse, opening her own negotiations with the European Commission and other EU organizations, including the unions.
She said The independent: “What we know about creators – whether they work in theater production, opera or play bands – is that what the Conservatives have agreed is not enough.
“The poisonous bureaucracy prevents creatives from working across Europe and going on tour. It is one of our best UK exports and that is why we need to do more.
“Everyone is fed up with waiting for the Conservatives to figure this out now. They haven’t negotiated anything new and that’s why we want to see a new supplementary agreement.
The deal would cover all the key issues faced by touring artists, an EU-wide visa waiver program, work permit exemptions, an agreement on ‘cabotage’ for vehicles and vehicles. “Notebooks” for the transport of instruments.
Ms McGovern, Shadow Brexit Minister Jenny Chapman, and Jo Stevens, Shadow Culture Secretary, plan to visit the Commission this fall – following the precedent of talks with opposition politicians during the Brexit crisis.
Labor stress that the initiative is not about undoing the Christmas Trade and Cooperation Agreement (ATC), but to get it added.
The EU has always stressed that it was the UK that walked away from talks on a so-called “mobility chapter” and that the proposal was never withdrawn.
Melua praised Labor’s announcement, highlighting the paperwork now involved in the tours, telling The independent: “It’s good to see that steps are being taken towards a solution.
“We rely on touring so much, I just did two shows in Germany with my band and the paperwork we needed for our guitars seemed overkill, even for the customs officer.”
Oddie said: “This is an issue that could make or break the position and reputation of the UK music industry.
“As it is, and without further intervention, touring in the EU will not be viable for everyone except the most established artists, and we will see a reduction in the number of new talent breaking through. The government should take Labor’s appeals very carefully, stop pretending to talk to industry and start taking a proactive approach by engaging with the EU on this issue. “
Deborah Annetts, Executive Director of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said: “We welcome Labor’s support for a visa waiver agreement, which would be a big step forward in making it easy for artists to tour in Europe a once again.”
And Horace Trubridge, general secretary of the Musicians’ Union, said: “Very little has happened to address the problems caused by the ATT. With Labor’s help, we are much more optimistic about the possibility of a breakthrough. “
The crisis sparked by what a senior Tory MP called a ‘no-deal Brexit’ for touring artists sparked huge protests demanding a government overhaul.
The #LetTheMusicMove campaign is supported by Radiohead, New Order, Wolf Alice, The Chemical Brothers, Annie Lennox, Biffy Clyro, Anna Calvi, Bob Geldof, Midge Ure and members of Blur and Portishead, among others.
The Carry on Touring petition garnered nearly 300,000 signatures – sparking debate in the House of Commons – and wrote an open letter to ministers, demanding the removal of the claim that artists can easily tour 19 countries.
He points out that, far from offering 90-day unlicensed tours as suggested, many are offering very few days – and that the UK has not gotten any improvement from its talks with national capitals.
But, in the House of Commons last week, the government again ruled out an overhaul, insisting it is up to the EU to agree to an original British proposal which Brussels said was much more open-ended and impractical. .
“We will continue our intensive negotiations [with nation states], but we must accept that it is not under our control ”, declared Julia Lopez, young Minister of Culture.