“Urgent steps” required to negotiate a reciprocal visa waiver for British artists, musicians and orchestras.
David Warburton MP for Somerton & Frome spoke out in a virtual parliamentary debate yesterday urging support for musicians and creative professionals entering Europe for work following Brexit.
David is the lead signatory on a parliamentary Early Day Motion (EDM) tabled by Harriet Harman MP calling on the Government to return to negotiations with the EU to seek agreement to allow creative professionals to continue working freely following the UK’s departure from the EU.
A former musician and award-winning composer, David graduated with a Master’s Degree from the Royal College of Music and studied towards a PhD in composition at King’s College, London, under the tutelage of Sir Harrison Birtwistle. In Parliament, David is Chair of the APPG for Music, a member of the Performers' Alliance APPG and Vice- Chair of the APPG for Music Education.
In his speech in the Commons yesterday, David emphasised the problem facing musicians and artists wanting to perform across the EU, “We’ve got ourselves into a sticky situation, for an enormously successful industry, because an industry visa-waiver hasn’t been agreed. Each EU country now treats UK citizens as visa nationals when entering the EU for paid work. Some EU countries apply a performers’ exemption, but not all. So artists may need a visa and work permit, depending on the rules in each of the EU27.
He continued, "Obviously, facing 27 different regulatory regimes, immigration rules, and rules on work permits, is going to make multi-country touring massively more complicated – and hugely more expensive. And EU promoters are going to be far less likely to book British artists, orchestras, until this is sorted out.
“I’m keen to hear from the minister what urgent steps are being taken to negotiate an exemption from cabotage rules. And – of course – a reciprocal visa waiver, as exists between the EU and other “third countries.”
He concluded, “The music industry must be mobile – it’s crucial for its success. In essence, like the pandemic, it’s the uncertainty that’s the challenge. We’ve got to clear that up, so - when the pandemic recedes - our world-leading industry can continue to flourish and grow.”
David is also a Co-Signatory to an EDM, tabled by Harriet Harman MP. Formerly Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Shadow Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons, among her many Cabinet and Shadow Cabinet roles Ms Harman served as Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport and is currently Chair of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.
Harriet Harman MP commented, "With the knowledge and understanding he has, it's invaluable to have David Warburton playing a central role to get the Government to negotiate visa-free EU travel for musicians and performers. Currently it's "No Deal" for musicians and we must change that."
Additional signatories of the EDM include the Green Party’s Caroline Lucas MP, Labour’s Kevin Brennan MP, Liberal Democrat Jamie Stone MP, Alison Thewliss of the Scottish National Party, Ben Lake MP of Plaid Cymru and Independent MP Jonathan Edwards.
Responding to the Parliamentary debate yesterday – and to the overwhelming cross-party support for the Government to act urgently – Caroline Dinenage MP, Minister of State for Digital and Culture, said that “The outcome of the negotiations is deeply regrettable… It’s not the deal that DCMS or the Government wanted, and it’s not the deal that the negotiators pushed for. But my door… remains one hundred percent open. There is scope to return to this issue in the future if the EU should change its mind and we would welcome it with open arms.”