Pressure is mounting on the British Government to explain why a proposal to exempt performers and musicians from the cost and burden of work permits to the European Union was turned down by the UK negotiators.
It is a revelation that has brought understandable fury from the Musicians Union, with MU General Secretary, Horace Trubridge, who represents over 32,000 members, stating that the decision, if true, was "nigh-on unbelievable".
In the latest online statement on the MU website he said: "With the British music business having been devastated by Covid-19 and with no end in sight to the black hole of cancelled concerts, tours, festivals and regular gigs that is the very bedrock of our world-class industry, the news, if true, that our own elected representatives chose to turn down such an offer is nigh-on unbelievable."
Confirm or deny
He went on to state that the freedom of economic movement was vital to an industry worth £5.8bn to the UK economy and was now demanding that the Culture Minister confirms or denies that it was the UK Government that blocked the deal.
Condemnation of the news has come from many sources. Labour MP, Angela Rayner called it "an utterly stupid decision and a hammer blow to our musicians, performing artists and the whole music industry which need support to get through this crisis and rebuild in the future."
In addition, Mr Horace said that the Musicians Union was briefing MPs to ask questions demanding that financial support be given to both live performers and those freelance musicians who remain with no financial assistance during lockdown.
The MU is asking for the Government to back an 'admin-light' Musicians' Passport that would allow free or cheap movement throughout the EU for a period of two years — getting rid of the need for carnets and permits and would cover road crews, technicians and other support staff.
Music and the performing arts rely on exchange of ideas and interaction between performers of different nationalities. We love working in the EU and we love artists coming over hereMusicians Union
Mr Horace concluded:"Music and the performing arts rely on exchange of ideas and interaction between performers of different nationalities. We love working in the EU and we love artists coming over here.
If musicians can't travel easily both ways, our reputation as a country that embraces all arts and culture will be severely damaged. Our members' ability to earn a living will also be severely affected."
A petition to force a debate in Parliament on the subject has already attracted almost a quarter of a million signatures.