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UK Music

February 4, 2021 3:51 PM
By Councillor Tim Lockington

Elton John (here) is right to raise concern about the loss of free-movement for musicians to tour in Europe. He is a very wealthy man but the main victims of this mess are local musicians starting out and professionals in music production, set design and simply those vital people, often self-employed and on low wages, who enable the tours to physically get around and deliver one of the things this Country does best, to people and communities that love us for it.

Ipswich and Suffolk has such a strong Arts heritage. Many of us will have personal knowledge of talented local musicians artists and performers whose value, income, mental health and welfare are so damaged by this threat to their future opportunities adding to the damage of the pandemic on their present ability to work.

Lib Dem Councillor, Tim Lockington observes, "over the last 5 years at our National Party Conferences, UK Music, the voice of the industry, has been begging politicians to get this sorted. I'm sure they have been a feature at Conservative conferences as well!The Government, which believes that "everything is for the best in this best of all possible Brexits", should have got this sorted out a very long time ago.

The failure to support and promote British musical culture in Europe is a fundamental failure of this Brexit deal. The Government needs to wake up and smell the coffee on this issue."

Recently, speaking in the Commons, Liberal Democrat MP Daisy Cooper (St Albans) asked what action will be taken by the Government to ensure self-employed musicians can travel visa-free in the EU.

"One of my constituents is the orchestral leader of two major British orchestras, but more than 50% of her work with British orchestras is touring abroad in the EU," she said.

"But she's a self-employed musician, so she doesn't have anybody to wade through all this new red tape for her.

"So, putting Covid to one side, by what specific date does (Oliver Dowden - minister responsible) hope to fix this absurd, bureaucratic, self-defeating situation so that self-employed musicians can enjoy visa-free travel in the EU?"

The reply of course suggested that it was all the EU's fault. If Brexit is about "Making Britain Great Again" well - the Trump era is over.

British musicians were delivering great British music to, as our Government is so fond of saying, "Our Friends in Europe". We need friends who need us, our musicians need our friendship and care and our music industry, our understanding and support.

Tim Lockington