3 min read10 June
Elton John has accused Lord Frost and other ministers of being unwilling to fix the “gaping hole” in the current Brexit deal which means that artists must get visas and permits to go on tour in Europe.
In a lengthy Instragram post released at the same time as a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee hearing on visas for creative workers today, the legendary singer said: “Put bluntly, we are currently in grave danger of losing a generation of talent due to the gaping holes in the government’s trade deal.
“New and emerging artists will be unable to tour Europe freely – an essential part of their education and development – due to the prohibitive costs of vias, carnets and permits.”
The UK government has said it tried to negotiate visa-free travel but was unable to come to an arrangement with the EU.
This means the amount of time a British artist can spend in an EU member state will be determined by the law of each individual country. Performers might require individual visas to visit certain EU countries, which they would have to pay for.
The Tiny Dancer singer, alongside his partner David Furnish, who is the CEO of Rocket Entertainment, met with Lord Frost last month to explain how UK artists are suffering because of the costs of touring.
In his statement, Elton said while he had the infrastructure and finance “to cut through the red tape that Lord Frost’s no deal has created”, this is not the same for artists just starting out.
“This gravest of situations is about the damage to the next generation of musicians and emerging artists, whose careers will stall before they’ve even started due to this infuriating blame game,” he said.
“During our meeting Lord Frost said trying to solve this issue is a long process. Unfortunately our industry doesn’t have time. It is dying now.
“The government have broken the promise they outlined in 2020 to protect musicians and other creative industries from the impact of Brexit on tours to Europe.”
The criticism of the government from one of the country’s most successful and admired musicians comes after Lord Frost was attacked in the Commons by MPs for failing to show up to the committee sesssion today to take questions on the post-Brexit touring arrangements.
Conservative MP Julian Knight, chair of the Commons commmittee for culture, media and sport, raised a point of order in the chamber to say Frost had refused twice to appear before them to give evidence. He explained that the Prime Minister had then directly assured Knight that Frost would turn up, but the peer cancelled his scheduled appearance today as he had attended the G7 in Cornwall.
In a statement, Knight, said: “Parliamentary scrutiny in front of select committees is of crucial importance in our democratic system and is particularly important when we have a government with a majority of over 80.
“It is brought into even sharper focus when the government chooses to appoint members of the House of Lords to Cabinet. Ministers in Cabinet from the Commons have scrutiny due to questions, urgent statements and departmental questions.”
Responding to the point of order, deputy speaker of the Commons, Rosie Winterton, rebuked Frost, saying he must give evidence as soon as he can, adding scrutiny is important “especially when they are members of the House of Lords”.
She said: “When the minister concerned is in the House of Lords it is particularly important that committees in this house (the Commons) are able to hold them to account.”
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