Elton John says visa-free touring is “not on the cards” after meeting with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden

John was among a host of musicians who signed an open letter criticising the UK Government's Brexit deal

Elton John has met with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden over the ongoing visa-free travel row in Europe.

The singer said he had “very positive” talks with Mr Dowden about EU travel for UK musicians, but said visa-free touring is not currently “on the cards”.

“It’s much more difficult for young artists to get this together because of all the red tape,” John told BBC arts editor Will Gompertz. “Every country has these different rules, there’s so much procedure to go through.


“People like myself are not really affected by it, we have a foundation of people who can look after it, it still has to be done but it’s much easier.

“[But] we find ourselves in the situation because of Brexit, this has arisen. How do we fix this? How can we fix this?

“I want the situation to be resolved, so that young people don’t have the difficulties of trying to tour in Europe, because it will affect their careers, it will stunt their growth and their creativity.”

He went on to say that he spoke to Mr Dowden for about 20 minutes and discussed ideas including the potential creation of a permanent site, backed by record labels, that could “help them with the logistics of touring in Europe”.

He explained: “If they can be helped through this it will take away a lot of their fears, and make life easier. I’m sure we can establish this, and we have to basically, otherwise they’re going to have not much of a future, and that is a crying shame, as there’s so many great artists out there.”


Mr Dowden later tweeted to say he had “a v positive call” with John and husband David Furnish, and that there was “lots of work going on in Govt on this”.

He previously said he would look into ways of providing post-Brexit financial support for the music industry.

John was among a host of musicians who all signed an open letter last month which criticised the UK Government’s Brexit deal, which has shunned the chance for touring musicians to enjoy visa-free travel in Europe.

Fans continue to sign the 280,000-strong petition and write to their MPs calling for visa-free travel for musicians and crew to be established. After ministers recently rejected the idea – insisting that “taking back control” of borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind” – MPs have now agreed to debate the matter in Parliament on February 8.

Music industry insiders have also warned that the current Brexit deal could prevent UK artists from being able to play in the US, claiming that if talent is unable to acquire “international recognition” through the usual channel of playing neighbouring European countries with ease, then this could make them ineligible for a visa in the States.