Band on the run.

January 11, 2021 10:14 AM
Originally published by Babergh South Suffolk Liberal Democrats

xpm/ (Photo by corey oconnell on Unsplash)Amongst the post-Brexit stories of DPD stopping deliveries to Europe and Northern Ireland, Scottish fisherman saying delays and bureaucracy means they may have to stop sales to Europe and M&S stopping sales of Percy Pigs in Ireland our attention was caught by an exclusive article in the Independent.

Arguably the problems described above are the bumps in the road as Mr Gove has warned us about and will be sorted as business becomes more familiar with the new rules

The Independent story concerns the fact that bands will have to apply for permits and visas if they wish to tour in Europe adding significantly to costs and making tours much less viable. Not a big issue as such although this is an area where the UK exports much more than it imports

Last week in a House of Lords Cabinet Office minister Lord True said: "The UK proposed measures that would have allowed musicians to travel and perform in the UK and the EU more easily, without needing work permits.

"Specifically, we proposed including the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, in the list of permitted activities for short-term visitors. All very clear you would think.

In fact, countries including the United States and Saudi Arabia enjoy a permit-free exemption for performers in their deals with the EU, which offers the arrangement as "standard". An EU spokesman said "The UK refused to agree because they said they were ending freedom of movement. It is untrue to say they asked for something more ambitious," the source said, adding "there has to be reciprocity".

It appears the stumbling block was Priti Patel's immigration crackdown which has introduced tough restrictions on tours by EU musicians.

From this month, they must, like non-EU artists, apply for visas - to visit for more than 30 days - as well as providing proof of savings and a sponsorship certificate from an event organiser.

The Independent discovered the UK did ask for a similar 30-day exemption for its performers, but rejected 90 days - to fit with its own new rules.

Deborah Annetts, the head of Incorporated Society of Musicians chief executive, said: "I'm horrified by this new development. The government must come clean about what steps it took to protect the performing arts in the negotiations.

"The music sector feels deeply let down by the government and we want to get to the bottom of what happened.

"All the way through 2020, we were given assurances that the government understood how important frictionless travel is for the performing arts."

What is so depressing about this story isn't the decision not to accept the standard 90 day offer per se. It is the fact that the government is trying to hide behind the EU rather than take responsibility for that decision. It maybe that trashing an export business is worth the purity of maintaining strict adherence to stopping all freedom of movement but if that is the case say so. Don't seek to pass the blame for what appears to be a perverse decision that even the US has been willing to accept

One of the few benefits we see from the Brexit deal is that the government now has no one to blame for the social and economic issues we face in the UK. For 40 years it has been convenient to blame the EU for unpopular policies and situations whether they generated the issue or not. We have seen across the Atlantic the consequences of continued lies and dissembling. We all know the Brexit deal involved compromises and give and take.
Is it too much to ask that the government stands behind the decisions it made?