Elton John says Brexit negotiators 'screwed up' deal for musicians

Amy Johnson
·3 min read
Elton John performs at Mission Estate on February 06, 2020 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)
Elton John performs at Mission Estate on February 06, 2020 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)

Elton John has criticised Brexit negotiators for "screwing up" the deal for musicians.

British musicians are now no longer guaranteed visa-free travel around Europe and may face new paperwork and extra costs, something many artists have spoken out against.

John has been a vocal critic of the government’s deal failing to cater to music artists and insists there must be renegotiations.

Writing in The Guardian, the 73-year-old said: "The situation we’re now in is ridiculous. Music is one of Britain’s greatest cultural exports. It contributed £5.8bn to the British economy in 2019, but was left out of the Brexit trade negotiations when other industries weren’t.

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"Workers from some professions are still allowed to travel on business without applying for a visa. But not musicians. Either the Brexit negotiators didn’t care about musicians, or didn’t think about them, or weren’t sufficiently prepared. They screwed up.

"It’s ultimately down to the British government to sort it out: they need to go back and renegotiate."

It comes as the Tiny Dancer hitmaker took part in a discussion with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden about post-Brexit travel arrangements for touring musicians last week.

He also added his name to a letter from more than 100 musicians stating performers have been “shamefully failed” by new visa rules.

Dowden has said the EU must budge to end the “absurd and self-defeating” obstacles facing UK-based musicians wishing to tour Europe post-Brexit.

Ronan Keating has added his voice to those hitting out at where the deal leaves musicians and crews.

The Boyzone star told BBC Breakfast the situation is "ridiculous". He said: "It’s not so much about larger artists who already have back catalogues and careers.

“There’s no money in record sales, the way that they (bands) make money is actually touring. So, to slap this on them, it’s just going to be devastating for the live industry… We won’t be able to go touring.”

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Radiohead's Colin Greenwood has also stepped in to speak out on the increased costs of touring post-Brexit.

He wrote in The Guardian: “It is time for the UK government to admit it didn’t do enough for the creative industries during the Brexit negotiations and look to renegotiate on the provision for touring in Europe,” he said.

Colin Greenwood of the band Radiohead is seen performing at the AmericanAirlines Arena on March 30, 2017 in Miami, Florida.  (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)
Colin Greenwood of the band Radiohead is seen performing at the AmericanAirlines Arena on March 30, 2017 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images)

“My country’s music is great because it scorns borders and boundaries; it is a great patriotic source, a force of confidence, joy and shared passions. I am proud of my country and all the music it has exchanged with the world, and I am sure that pride is felt across all ages and cultures in the UK.

"It is the antithesis of the culturally pinched nationalism that is Brexit, and its diminishment would deprive us all.”

With additional reporting by PA.

Watch: Roger Daltrey says he hasn’t changed EU opinion despite criticising Brexit touring impact