How Brexit Crippled Touring for UK Musicians

July 10, 2023

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Excerpt from the article in The Times:

Overall the number of UK bands touring the EU this summer — the first since all Covid restrictions were lifted — is down by 32 per cent, compared with 2017-19, figures from the Best for Britain campaign group show. Senior government figures acknowledge that there’s a problem. Lord Frost, who had insisted artists wouldn’t be adversely affected by the Brexit deal he negotiated in 2019, conceded last year that Brexit “is making life difficult [for] movement of specialists like musicians and artists. We should take another look.”

It’s not just musicians and fans who are losing out. Acts are supported by a small army of truckers and roadies. Thanks to the strength of the British music scene, coupled with US artists’ desire to use English-speaking crews, UK firms used to dominate the European music haulage business. “Britain had about 85 per cent of the market,” says Stuart McPherson, who runs KB Event Ltd, which operates a fleet of lorries worth £20 million. His business was hit hard when the post-Brexit EU rules came into force.

The operating costs of the new arrangements are growing. The drivers of the now EU-registered lorries need to pass the EU’s Certificate of Professional Competence test because Brussels no longer recognises the UK’s driver qualifications. The EU tests take five days and have to be done in Ireland. To get all of his 200 UK drivers qualified costs more than £200,000. “It’s new costs, upon new costs, upon new costs.”

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