Elton John criticises government’s latest post-Brexit touring announcement: “A rehash of what we already know”

Yesterday, the Department of Culture, Media & Sport said "short-term" visa-free travel without work permits will be allowed for musicians and performers in 19 EU countries

Elton John has criticised the government’s latest announcement on post-Brexit touring rules, calling it a “rehash of what we already know”.

Yesterday (August 4), the government announced that “short-term” visa-free travel without work permits will be allowed for musicians and performers in 19 European countries. Talks are also ongoing with the remaining countries in the EU.

In a statement posted to Twitter, John said his excitement about the Department of Culture, Media & Sport’s latest declaration had “soon turned to disappointment after realising it seems to be just a rehash of what we already know”.

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“There needs to be far more clarity on exactly what progress has been made,” he continued. “There is a small window of opportunity to get this right to ensure the next generation of musicians and emerging artists have the ability to tour. Speed is of the utmost importance. We need to sustain momentum to enforce change.”

He added: “There must be solutions, short and long term, or we risk losing future generations of world-beating talent.”

The pop icon’s comments follow other music industry figures speaking out against the government’s latest announcement. Ian Smith from ukeartswork and the #CarryOnTouring campaign told NME that DCMS’ statement was misleading at best and, in places, “badly wrong”.

“Yes, we have visa and permit free work in 19 countries – however, what has not been said is that those free periods range from seven days in any one year to 14-30 days to 90 days, all with different reporting requirements,” he explained. “This means reporting said work to either the border police or local authorities prior to entering to work.”

David Martin, CEO of Featured Artists Coalition, agreed with John that yesterday’s announcement was “nothing more than we already knew”. “Despite the spin, this statement represents an admission of failure,” he told NME.

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“Failure to fulfil the promises made by Government about securing our industry’s future during negotiations, failure to ‘fix’ the issue, as per the PM’s statement of March this year, and failure to provide certainty around touring in almost a third of EU countries, eight months after the music industry was dealt a ‘No Deal’ scenario.”

Last month (July 6), John promised that he and his husband David Furnish would “continue to fight for all artists, especially those at the start of their career, who are losing out because of the gaping holes in the UK Government’s disastrous trade agreement with Europe”. The couple took part in a virtual meeting with Michael Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, and a number of others, to discuss free movement and visa-free arrangements for artists.

“We need to act now to save the music industry and support future talent,” the pop veteran added.

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