Brexit 2025: Looking back
Chair: Michael Dugher, UK Music (UK)
Those bleary-eyed delegates who made it to Room 3 for the first session of the day were greeted by five interstellar travellers from the year 2025, transported to the present day to share their insights post-Brexit.
At least, that was the plan: Moderator Michael Dugher admitted that if you asked what the Brexit process would “look like at 20.25 [8.25pm], I couldn’t give you an answer,” summing up the negotiation of the UK’s exit from the EU as “the most advanced and complex form of public, multidimensional chess we’ve ever seen” – and that from a man who spent many years in parliament and government.
The MMF’s Annabella Coldrick said she sees two visions of how the future will look: “If you listen to the likes of [prominent Brexiteer] Liam Fox, the UK will be booming: we’ll have the right to set our own laws, strike our own trade deals and have frictionless trade with the EU.
“The more pessimistic – and perhaps realistic – view is that we won’t get to have our cake and eat it, and that even if there are solutions on the visa side around carnets, we’ll still see increased costs for artists and their teams.”
Oleg Gaidar of London-based Artist & Entertainer Visas Global described how, on the morning after the Brexit vote, his entire team was shocked and saddened – not least because the majority, including him, are from continental Europe. He spoke of the visa troubles experienced in Brazil recently by Phil Collins as an example of authorities struggling with changes in immigration law, although added that the two-year Brexit transition period should make things easier in the UK.
Conversely, eps’s Okan Tombulca said there is “too much panicking” around Brexit at the moment, stating that “we’re worrying because it’s going to be expensive but we don’t know yet. I think there will be solutions that are affordable for all of us.”
“IT MIGHT BE GOOD FOR THE CONTINENT, BECAUSE UK MUSIC IS SO DOMINANT”
He conceded that live entertainment companies will “have to make a couple of adjustments: maybe I can’t do any more back-to-back shows in London and Paris, so I have to take a day off,” but added that “we already have to do this in other countries.
“I think the effect of Brexit will be less that most people think.”
Tombulca also spoke about the recent launch of eps UK, saying the weak pound is attractive for foreign companies and presents an “opportunity” by stimulating exports.
Dick Molenaar of the Netherlands’ All Arts Tax Advisers said Brexit is “much more a UK issue” than a continental one: “When I listen to people in the Netherlands, they say it might be good for the continent, because UK music is currently so dominant,” he explained.
When it comes to taxation, it shouldn’t make too much of a difference, he explained, as taxes are a national – not an EU – issue, although VAT could be “problematic” for bands taking merchandise and other VAT-liable goods across borders. Currently, there is an EU-wide threshold for VAT that “only the biggest sellers go over.”
While delegate Ed Grossman accused Coldrick of “trying very hard and failing to find a problem,” saying anti-Leavers were “scraping the barrel, and nothing’s coming out,” artist manager Adam Parsons said Brexit will add “more costs, more grief and more time” to touring. “We’re going to get through it, but it’s going to make everything more difficult.
“In 2025, we’ll have forgotten about it, but it’s going to be a pain in the fucking arse – it really is.”