skip to main content

Major role for MU in Urgent Parliamentary Debate on EU Touring

We received vital coverage on the need for a Musicians' Passport in today’s parliamentary debate. Find out what happened, what our next actions will be, and how you can get involved.

Photo ofIsabelle Gutierrez
By Isabelle Gutierrez Published: 19 January 2021 | 2:47 PM Updated: 19 January 2021 | 5:53 PM
Photograph of the sun setting over the houses of Parliament and Big Ben.
Caroline Dinenage confirmed that if the EU was willing to consider the UK’s proposal – she would happily re-enter discussions. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Following an urgent question by Pete Wishart MP, Minister for Culture Caroline Dinenage answered a series of questions from MPs on the impact of the Brexit deal on musicians touring in the EU.

MU members who have written to their MPs on this issue should be clear that their efforts have been vital in making this debate happen, and in bringing the Minister to parliament to answer these questions today.

MU General Secretary Horace Trubridge was directly quoted during the debate and referred to as an industry expert, and the MU was more generally quoted on a further five occasions.

Clarification on the EU’s proposals for performers

Once again, the Minister confirmed that the UK proposals for reciprocal touring without the need for work permits were based on the MU’s proposals for a Musicians’ Passport.

Ms Dinenage clarified that EU proposals which would have covered ad hoc performances only, would not have covered technicians or other crew members and, crucially, would not have exempted musicians from the need for work permits.

In addition, she said that the EU proposals would also have been incompatible with the UK Government’s wish to ‘reclaim our borders’ as it would have enshrined visa free stays for EU citizens in the UK.

Shadow Minister for Culture Alison McGovern MP asked the Minister to urgently reopen negotiations with the EU and to also publish details of the proposals and counter proposals. Ms Dinenage confirmed that if the EU was willing to consider the UK’s proposal – which would have removed the need for work permits, as well as covering technicians and crew – she would happily re-enter discussions.

What the MU will do next

We will now move forward to:

  • Urgently follow up with Caroline Dinenage to ask her to publish all details of the negotiations on this point and to urge her to reopen discussions with the EU
  • Work with musicians’ organisations in Europe to put pressure on the EU and individual governments to return to the table
  • Write to EU officials to request details of the proposals that the EU made and the UK rejected.

Horace said:

“We welcome this debate initiated by MU member Pete Wishart but it raises more questions than it answers. We really need to see the details of the proposals made by the EU and the UK’s counter offer in order to identify where the problems lie.

“It would be a tragedy if the livelihoods of so many performers and ancillary workers were to end up as a political football being kicked around by the UK and the EU. I urge the Secretary of State to step up and secure a deal that enables frictionless work permit and carnet free touring for UK and EU performers.”

Thanks to MPs

A great number of MPs spoke in the debate and directly referred to musicians who had written to them. Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of these MPs, who spoke directly on behalf of MU members:

  • Damian Green
  • John Nicolson
  • Kevin Brennan
  • Gagan Mohindra
  • Jamie Stone
  • Fleur Anderson
  • Simon Fell
  • Tracy Brabin
  • Tommy Shepherd
  • Ian Paisley
  • Jane Hunt
  • Barbara Keeley
  • Bob Blackman
  • Alex Davies-Jones
  • Richard Fuller
  • Andrew Bowie
  • Caroline Nokes
  • Ben Bradshaw
  • Maria Eagle
  • Hywel Williams
  • Crispin Blunt
  • Scott Mann
  • Clive Efford
  • Damian Collins
  • Steve Brine
  • Mary Kelly Foy
  • Dave Doogan
  • Robin Millar

If your MP is not on that list, let them know. Write to your MP now.

Continue reading

Photograph of an orchestra set out in a socially distanced way, we can see all the musicians sat out across the stage in distanced positions, whilst a conductor gestures from the front.

Life in Lockdown for UK Orchestras

In this longer-read feature, find out more about how UK orchestras have been faring through the pandemic – including taking on remote recording projects, working in creative new directions, and putting health and safety first in the move back to work.

Read more about Life in Lockdown for UK Orchestras