David Frost has admitted his Brexit deal has hurt touring musicians’ livelihoods because of new bureaucracy caused by leaving the European Union.
The former Brexit secretay has previously been accused of making touring difficult because of the paperwork and costs involved, but has only now finally admitted his agreement with the EU should be changed, according to The Independent.
He said: “We should take another look at mobility issues.
“There is a whole set of problems here that is making life difficult on both sides: youth mobility, movement of specialists like musicians and artists.”
Frost, who no longer has responsibility for the deal he sealed in with the bloc after resigning in December last year, insisted “these problems can be solved” without backtracking on UK’s commitment to end free movement for EU citizens coming to Britain.
And he confessed he was “too purist” when sorting out the UK-EU deal, but now thinks Britain should “try to get” a deal without “excessive paperwork and process requirements”.
Labour MP Kevin Brennan said Frost’s confession is an “astonishing admission of guilt” and said his “purist dogma has ruined successful British businesses and hit artists income hard.”
And Jamie Njoku-Goodwin, UK Music’s chief executive, told The Independent: “These comments confirm everything the music industry has been warning about for more than a year now, and should be a call to action for ministers.
“If even the chief negotiator believes we should look at mobility issues again, there is no excuse for government not to act on this.”
UK musicians’ warnings
UK musicians have been expressing fears over the Brexit deal not allowing visa-free touring following the UK’s rejection of an EU offer to keep permit-free international concerts.
Last year, Opera singer Dame Sarah Connolly told The London Economic that UK’s creative industries would lose their competitiveness in a post-Brexit world – but despite feeling “furious” about the situation musicians find themselves in, she said she predicted it.
She added: “The sad reality is that young performers are not given the opportunity to work in Europe, they can’t get a foothold there. We are losing 27 countries, while Europeans are only missing out on Britain.
“However, I will also miss Europeans here because they add to the diversity.
“European students are not going to choose the London Conservatoire anymore. London is no longer going to be one of the artistic capitals of Europe, because already European students are no longer coming here. It’s all going to become very myopic.”
And Peter Corr, who organised Music Sounds Better with EU, an event to promote artists post-Brexit, said in June 2021 that musicians would only realise the impact of Brexit until the Covid pandemic ends.
“Once it calms down, I think they are going to start realising they are not going to be able to get any bookings,” he told TLE at the time.
Related: UK festivals are set to face ‘perfect storm’ in 2022 thanks to Brexit