UK MP backs calls for visa deal for EU artists
British member of parliament Bernard Jenkin has called for immediate government action to safeguard free movement for musicians after Brexit, warning of a “paralysis” gripping the music industry as negotiations between the UK and EU rumble on.
Speaking at a fringe meeting at the Conservative party conference in Manchester, veteran Eurosceptic Jenkin (pictured) said Britain does not have to wait for a deal with the EU to set up a visa system for European musicians visiting the UK.
His comments come after meeting chair Michael Dugher, an ex-MP who now leads industry group UK Music, urged the government to consider introducing a touring ‘passport’ for British artists playing the EU after Britain leaves in 2019.
According to the BBC’s Brian Wheeler, who was at the meeting, Jenkin said music organisations “need to know where they stand. We don’t need to wait for an agreement, but there is a sense – the same applies to seasonal workers in agriculture – that there is paralysis because everyone has been told not to announce anything, or decide anything, until further agreement has been made.
“There are things we need to get on with and decide and implement for ourselves, whatever the outcome of the negotiations”
“There are things we need to get on with and decide and implement for ourselves, whatever the outcome of the negotiations.”
Matt Hancock, the minister of state for digital and culture, appeared to welcome Jenkin’s suggestion, saying he “entirely agree[s] that we don’t need to wait for a deal before we set out the direction of future immigration policy, and I take your pleadings to get on with it.”
“I hope we can come to a good and reasonable resolution on this,” he added.
Industry figures and associations, both in the UK and internationally, quizzed by IQ in the run-up to last June’s referendum overwhelmingly expressed a wish to remain in the European Union – with uncertainty over future visa-free travel for artists a common concern – but most were sanguine on British music’s prospects following the 52–48 vote to leave.
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