MPs announce debate on petition calling for EU-wide visa-free work permits for musicians and crew

The petition has over 280,000 signatures so far

MPs are set to debate the widely shared petition which is calling for visa-free work permits across Europe for UK touring musicians and their crew following Brexit.

The UK Government has come in for heavy criticism since the UK officially left the EU earlier this month over the Brexit deal’s lack of support for touring musicians, specifically in terms of the failure to implement visa-free travel in Europe for British musicians and their crew.

The petition was started last month ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period, and it has since amassed over 280,000 signatures.

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It will now be debated during a special virtual hearing of MPs, with proceedings taking place online rather than in parliament due to the coronavirus pandemic. MPs will debate the touring musicians’ petition from 4.30pm on February 8, with the session set to last for 90 minutes and be broadcast to the public live on parliamentlive.tv and on YouTube.

Catherine McKinnell MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee, will open the session, with Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister for Digital and Culture, responding.

“I’m delighted we have been able to schedule two e-petition sessions, where Members from across the House, including those self-isolating and shielding, will be able to scrutinise the Government directly on issues raised by petitioners,” McKinnell said in a statement.

The EU flag flies outside of the Houses of Parliament (Picture: Getty Images)

“As was the case when Westminster Hall was closed due to Covid-19 last year, we have had to innovate to find ways to hold the Government to account, and crucially to voice the concerns of petitioners in the House of Commons, while our usual debates cannot be held.

“As these petitions demonstrate, there are important issues affecting hundreds of thousands of people that are being missed. Their calls for help and support must be heard.”

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Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden told NME earlier this month that the EU was to blame for not permitting visa-free travel for artists, but the EU subsequently hit back by denying claims that they had rejected the UK’s “ambitious proposals” and saying that they had in fact offered the UK 90 days of visa-free travel – but the UK responded with their own proposal of just 30 days.

Despite widespread anger from artists and music industry bosses calling on the government to “take this seriously and fix it”, ministers rejected the idea last week – insisting that “taking back control” of the UK’s borders is their priority and that talks would only resume if Brussels “changes its mind”.

Last week an open letter signed by over 100 musicians, including the likes of Elton John, Liam Gallagher and Ed Sheeran, was published, criticising the government for their failure to support touring musicians in the Brexit deal.

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