Musicians treated as ‘collateral’ by Brexit agreement that fails to provide touring visas, SNP MP says
Referring to his days touring in Europe with the band Runrig, the Perth and North Perthshire MP told the Commons touring Europe was “everything” for musicians.
He said: “The thrill of that first tour, crammed into the Transit van with all your gear, four to a room in a cheap hotel in Paris, Rotterdam or Hamburg. Using what’s left of the fee for a post-gig beer.
“The dream that when you come back it will be a lavish tour bus, staying in five-star hotels.
“Gone, all gone. Musicians and artists mere collateral in this government’s obsession in ending freedom of movement.”
Culture minister Caroline Dinenage insisted “the door is open” if the EU was willing to “consider the UK’s very sensible proposals” on visa arrangements, but admitted nothing would change as it stands.
Pointing the finger at the EU, she said: “This is incredibly disappointing news for the music sector, it is not the deal that we wanted.
“But I’m afraid that in many other senses he has fallen for some very selective briefing.
“The EU did not offer a deal that would have worked for musicians. 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.”
She added: “Let’s focus on the future. If the EU is willing to consider the UK’s very sensible proposals, then the door is open.”
The heated debate also saw SNP MP Tommy Sheppard accused ministers of “fatally undermining” festivals in the UK.
He said: “The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world.
"I hope she will be aware that this event and others like it have a vital role to play in developing new work and providing a springboard for artists to then subsequently tour that work.
“Does she therefore not understand that by refusing to maintain a visa exemption for artists, she is fatally undermining festivals in Scotland and the United Kingdom?”
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