Radiohead, Brian Eno and Jayda G say UK government has “failed” musicians in open letter

Radiohead Glastonbury © Chris Cooper /
© Chris Cooper /

Over 100 artists have signed a letter to the government criticising the post-Brexit UK-EU negotiations for musicians.

The letter, published yesterday (20 January) in The Times, was organised by the Liberal Democrats and the Incorporated Society Of Musicians (ISM). Radiohead, Brian Eno, Bicep, Jayda G, Hot Chip, Ross From Friends, Sting, Sir Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Glastonbury’s Micheal and Emily Eavis are among 110 artists and industry professionals who have signed the letter calling for action from the UK government.

The letter states: “The deal done with the EU has a gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be. Everyone on a European music tour will now need costly work permits for many countries they visit and a mountain of paperwork for their equipment.”

“We urge the government to do what it said it would do and negotiate paperwork-free travel in Europe for British artists and their equipment.”

“For the sake of British fans wanting to see European performers in the UK and British venues wishing to host them, the deal should be reciprocal.”

Earlier this week, we reported that ministers had ruled out fighting for visa-free tours for musicians. During a debate in the House of Commons on Tuesday (19 January), culture minister Caroline Dinenage insisted that “taking back control of our borders” was a priority.

“The EU did not offer a deal that would have worked for musicians,” she said. “It’s quite simple, the EU in fact made a very broad offer which would not have been compatible with the government’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders.”

Musicians and artists touring the EU will be “required to check domestic immigration and visitor rules for each member state in which they intend to tour.” This means that artists, staff, performers and other industry professionals may need to obtain multiple work permits or visas, and £350 permits for individual instruments and other equipment. The letter signatories suggest that these extra costs could “tip many performers over the edge”.

Culture Security Oliver Dowden met with music industry representatives yesterday (20 January) to address concerns. As Financial Times reports, Dowden encouraged artists to utilise their “star power” to lobby the EU to ease new visa and work permit rules.

The Times subscribers can read the letter in full here.