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Brexiteer Bruce Dickinson slams UK government over Brexit’s impact on UK musicians

Bruce D
(Image credit: Sky News)

Iron Maiden frontman Bruce Dickinson has called on the British government to “get your act together” in regards to the impact Brexit has had on British artists’ international touring plans.

Following Sir Elton John’s claims that “philistines” in Boris Johnson’s government are “crucifying” young British musicians, and artists including Skunk Anansie, Idles, Biffy Clyro, Wolf Alice and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason’s joining forces to launch the #LetTheMusicMove campaign, stating “The future of British music is at stake”, Dickinson has expressed his own exasperation with the situation.

Admitting “it’s very well known that I voted for Brexit”, Dickinson told Sky News “the idea is that, after you’ve done it, you then go in and be sensible about the relationships you have with people. So, at the moment, all this guff about not being able to play in Europe, and the Europeans not being able to play over here, and work permits and all the rest of the rubbish… Come on! Get your act together!”

In 2018, Dickinson admitted that he was “pretty relaxed” about the idea of Brexit, having voted for it himself. 

"There's a lot of nonsense and scare stories being made up by both sides which I think is pretty immature,” he stated. “Brexit will enable us to be more flexible and I think that people in Europe will get an advantage from that.”

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David Martin, CEO of the Featured Artists Coalition, a UK trade body representing the specific rights and interests of music, has warned of a “crisis” affecting British musicians if concers over access to Europe are not addressed. 

“The UK’s music industry is a success story,” he said. “It contributes enormously to the economy and provides the country with unparalleled soft power, yet we have been dealt a no deal Brexit. Five years on from the referendum vote and six months after the deal was agreed, there has been scant progress from the Government to protect the artist businesses that fuel the industry.

“Touring is essential; it provides opportunities to build audiences, access new markets and develop careers, and it is this activity that supports our recorded music sector. It is time for the Government to fulfil the Prime Minister’s promises to ‘fix’ the crisis facing Britain’s artists.”

Sir Elton John, meanwhile, says the situation presents a "looming catastrophe" for the UK.

"I want to be clear that the issues of visa-free and permit-free touring aren't about the impact on me, and artists who tour arenas and stadiums," he said.

"This gravest of situations is about the damage to the next generation of musicians and emerging artists, whose careers will stall before they've even started due to this infuriating blame game.

"If I had faced the financial and logistical obstacles facing young musicians now when I started out, I'd never have had the opportunity to build the foundations of my career and I very much doubt I would be where I am today."

“I’m livid about what the government did when Brexit happened,” he told The Guardian. “They made no provision for the entertainment business, and not just for musicians, actors and film directors, but for the crews, the dancers, the people who earn a living by going to Europe.”

“The government are philistines. We’ve got used to governments – especially the British government – just telling us lies every day, and I don’t feel OK with that… I’m 74 years of age and I just don’t get this unfairness and this ridiculous ability to lie through your teeth every fucking minute of the day.”