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UK live organisations react to PM’s resignation

Boris Johnson is stepping down as Conservative leader after a controversial three-year reign, but intends to remain as PM until the autumn

By James Hanley on 07 Jul 2022

Boris Johnson

The UK’s live music industry is facing up to a further period of uncertainty following the resignation of prime minister Boris Johnson.

Johnson, who succeeded Theresa May in 2019, is stepping down as Conservative leader after a controversial three-year reign, but has stated his intention to remain as PM until the autumn, when his successor is decided in a leadership contest.

“It is clearly now the will of the parliamentary Conservative Party that there should be a new leader of that party and therefore a new prime minister,” he said.

His announcement, made outside Downing Street this morning, came on the heels of an extraordinary few days in British politics, which saw mass resignations by more than 50 government members in protest at the PM’s leadership – a crisis triggered by revelations that Johnson was aware of allegations against MP Chris Pincher prior to appointing him as deputy chief whip earlier this year.

Members of UK trade body LIVE have given their reaction to the news, with Association of Independent Festivals (AIF) CEO Paul Reed outlining its ramifications for the live sector.

“The resignation of the PM and subsequent disruption further complicates and slows down the policy making process,” he tells IQ. “It effectively puts the government in a holding pattern until a leadership contest is concluded, when we need intervention on VAT and further support during this recovery phase, in which festivals are facing a range of very difficult trading conditions.”

“The last 24 to 48 hours have been the most turbulent times in British political history”

Dave Keighley, chair of the Production Services Association (PSA), describes Johnson’s exit as “inevitable”.

“The last 24 to 48 hours have been the most turbulent times in British political history,” says Keighley, speaking to IQ. “It was, in my mind, inevitable that Boris Johnson was left with no alternative but to resign. I for one, thought he should have resigned when he was issued with a fine for breaking lockdown rules. In the end it is always the lies and deceit that cripple politicians and their careers.

“Boris has been the victim of his own arrogance, selfishness and stubbornness. Let’s hope the party and government can find a replacement as soon as possible.”

The move has also created speculation regarding the culture secretary position, currently held by Johnson loyalist Nadine Dorries.

The Music Venue Trust’s CEO Mark Davyd told Music Week that Dorries, who became the seventh politician in less than five years to hold the post when succeeding Oliver Dowden in 2021, was the first culture secretary to decline a meeting with the organisation since it was founded in 2014.

Media, digital and infrastructure minister Julia Lopez and tech and digital economy minister Chris Philp, meanwhile, both joined the government exodus earlier this week.

LIVE CEO Jon Collins recently spoke to IQ about how the government could help the live music industry navigate its well-documented post-pandemic challenges.

“Significant cost pressures and the cost-of-living squeeze mean trading remains challenging,” he said. “It is of vital importance therefore, that the government takes steps to support those across the live music ecosystem. In particular, introducing a cultural rate of VAT on ticket sales which would secure the sector’s recovery, boost the UK economy and deliver many more weekends like the one that lies ahead.”


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