Jacob Rees-Mogg has declared that he has never read NME, as our recent article about the ongoing frustration surrounding post-Brexit touring was discussed in Parliament today (Thursday, January 6). Watch the discussion above.
This morning we published a piece in which live music industry leaders and insiders criticised the “clueless” UK government and opened up about the problems that remain for artists and crew wishing to tour in Europe, one year on from the feeling that the sector has been dealt a “No Deal Brexit”.
Raising the issue in Parliament today, Labour MP and DCMS Select Committee Member Kevin Brennan put it to Rees-Mogg, the Conservative Leader of the House of Commons, that the government had not been active and engaged enough in helping overcome the remaining obstacles for live music on the continent.
“I don’t know if the Leader of the House has had time to read today’s New Musical Express yet, but in it there’s a long article which sets out the continuing problems 12 months on after Brexit for touring artists wanting to work – to work – across the European Union visa-free and without unnecessary costs and bureaucracy,” asked Brennan.
He continued: “The CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition said in that article, ‘All the information we’ve got, we had to get it from multiple sources – but none of them were the government’. Now that the major obstacles are out of the way with Lord Frost’s welcome departure, can we have a debate about focussing on solving this problem once and for all?”
Rees-Mogg then replied that he “must disagree” about Lord Frost’s exit and described him as “a most distinguished figure and servant of this government and of the nation”, before going on to defend the current stance and approach for artists wishing to tour the EU after Brexit.
“The honourable gentleman knows that these matters are being discussed between Her Majesty’s Government and individual member states of the European Union who have responsibility for it. Considerable progress, as I think the honourable gentleman acknowledges, has been made with a number of countries being very willing to have reciprocal arrangements.”
The real bombshell then came when the North East Somerset MP added: “But may I confess, Mr Speaker, that I have failed in that I have not read the New Musical Express this morning, or indeed on any morning that I can ever recall.”
It was just over a year ago that the government jeopardised the future of touring for UK artists when the Brexit deal secured with the EU failed to negotiate visa-free travel and Europe-wide work permits for musicians and crew.
Problems still remain when it comes to new rules and red tape, creating huge costs to future live music tours of the continent – which could create a glass ceiling that prevents rising and developing talent from being able to afford to do so.
Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s promise to fix the issues that could stop artists from being able to tour Europe due to these increased costs, only Spain has signed up to allow UK musicians to tour the country without visas.
New Brexit rules have also seen a “massive” amount of jobs and taxable income lost to the EU due to it making touring “nigh-on impossible” for road crew. Cabotage rules currently mean that trucks travelling from the UK are only allowed to make one stop in an EU state before having just seven days to make a maximum of two more before returning home.