Ministers rule out fighting for visa-free Brexit plan for UK artists

Eurosonic Noorderslag

The culture minister insisted that “taking back control of our borders” is a priority.

During a talk in the Commons today (19 January), culture minister Caroline Dinenage ruled out fighting for visa-free tours for musicians. The deal, she said, would enable “visa-free short stays for all EU citizens”. She added, “That is just simply not compatible with our manifesto commitment to taking back control of our borders.” She stated that negotiations will only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.

UK musicians “will be required to check domestic immigration and minister rules for each member states in which they wish to tour.”

The culture minister said the government will aim to work with EU member states “to find ways to make life easier” for UK artists. She agreed to consider publishing correspondence of negotiations.

Earlier this month, it was reported by The Independent that, despite blaming Brussels for the decision, the UK government had rejected the EU’s ‘standard’ proposal of 90 days of visa-free travel, instead opting for an allowance of 30 days. A government spokesperson later said these claims were “not true“. They told NME, “It is not true we turned down a bespoke arrangement from the EU to allow musicians to work and perform in member states. The UK government has and always will support ambitious arrangements for performers and artists to be able to work and tour across Europe.”

“Unfortunately the EU repeatedly refused the proposals we made on behalf of the UK’s creative arts sector. We are clear that our door remains open should the EU change its mind. We will endeavour to make it as straightforward as possible for UK artists to travel and work in the EU.”

The EU denied claims that they had “rejected [the UK’s] ambitious proposals”.

Dinenage said today: “The negotiating team did negotiate an opportunity to come back and review this in the years ahead – so the light at the end of the tunnel is not entirely switched off.”