One Brexit result: Musicians will have to go

One Brexit result: Musicians will have to go


norman lebrecht

June 24, 2016

As things stand, musicians from all 28 EU countries can live and work in the UK without prior condition.

After Brexit, they will have to prove they are earning £35,000 a year.

Many, including regular players in the London orchestras and most outside London, do not achieve that income.

They will have to leave.

And we will be the poorer for it.


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  • JaneB says:

    Utter, utter rubbish. You don’t know what regulations or conditions will pertain after Brexit has been formally completed. No-one does. These negotiations are yet to take place.

  • Dirk Fischer says:

    Hold on… you were *against* Brexit!?

  • pooroperaman says:

    And so Project Fear continues…

    It’s funny how this didn’t previously affect all the Japanese, Chinese, South Korean etc etc players that every orchestra seems to be full of.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It is an absurd outcome which threatens to reduce the UK to a provincial status, in cultural terms, and maybe also politically. Classical music represents a broad, European cultural identity, transcending borders; the brexit will alienate it further from the wider UK population. Probably the UK will fall apart, Scotland, N-Ireland and Gibraltar wanting to remain part of the EU which now is forced to reform towards a more socially-aware umbrella, stimulating both local identity and a European cultural identity. That will be a challenge possibly too great for the leaders in Brussels. Nationalism, populism and right-wing extremism are the enemies of culture and a reform needs a strongly cultural input to counter such threats.

    • Alexander Strauch says:

      Well said, Mr. Borstlap! So far as we both could talk controversial about contemporary music so I consent with your short analysis of the actual situation. I think as german and swiss citizen that UK and EU will have a relation as CH and EU. But also Non-EU-citizens and musicians in CH are getting big problems if they do not fulfill income limits which could happen very fast for freelance musicians, last years in Basel. The problem was obviously solved (who knows more about it?). But this step back in fear of mainly polish migrants, OMG. If all east-european nurses, legal or illegal in Germany, and mainly senior german voters would vote for a “DEXIT”, all their nurses would have massive problems. No idea if such problems are now threatening UK. But also with the pretended saved payments to the EU the NHS is not to recover. And all the EU money for structurally weak regions in the UK could be a reason for Scotland, Northern Ireland to leave the UK. In the end of today we see: UK has also a massive internal problem that english voters could dominate scottish, n-irish and welsh voters. To return to Switzerland and its direct democracy: if the total of the voters is not mirrored by the total of he “Kantons”/cantons the total of all nationwide voters is obsolete…

      • John Borstlap says:

        Interestingly, it is mainly the old that voted for brexit; the young want to stay in. The rightwing anti-immigrant campaign in a recent Swiss election – the black sheep being kicked-out on the posters – reflects the broader European fear of immigration while in the same time, experts say Europe does need young workers coming-in to counter the aging population. It is identity instinct…. but isn’t it here, that culture could play a role? Because a culture you can choose, wherever you come from, and grow into its signifyers and norms, and especially: its language. If classical / serious music were not so marginallized by populism and pop culture, and the general egalitarian society which considers it elitist and authoritarian (a conductor dominating a whole orchestra!), it could play a reconciling and transcending role. It is as if society is on drift and solutions carefully kept locked-up in the closet.

        • Sue says:

          This is a completely disingenuous argument; Spain and Greece are chock full with unemployed people – especially the young – who would be more than willing and able to fill in any gaps further north in Europe. It would have made Europe much more stable, what’s more.

          Regarding ‘old people’ who voted for Brexit; I heard an interview today with an older man who said “my friends didn’t die in WW2 for us to be dominated by Germany today”. It’s a compelling argument but, I guess, if you’ve never had to put your own life on the line….

        • Alexander Strauch says:

          Dear Mr. Borstlap. A interesting minor aspect to yesterdays reactions of continental politicians: Mostly they invoked “economic stability and prosperity, internal and external order and security, free traffic of persons and freights” as efforts of the EU. But as chancellor Merkel they forgot: “european culture”! That was really outlandish. Then I am used to define Europe as a network from similar cultural lines, and it does not matter if this were in classical or popular culture. In the end I believe that classical music could be a important part of the cultural framework that bounds us together: see the exchange of musicians between the European countries, see the influence from french and italian music on german music and vice-versa, see the impact of british Haendel mass-performances on later similar developments on the continent, see the stylistic more colorful contemporary music scene in the UK, long before the german music scene is opened – also if you disagree, but more diversity in contrast to the Darmstadt-closed-circles just to the “zero-years of 21th century”, that we learned from UK. Yes, and this cultural commonalities are expunged first by the politics and this following second by the voters. Not consciously. But as a consequence of the wrong-guided thin majority which voted for their fears and not for their chances. Ok, we know that the EU is also a mirror for globalization, neo-liberalism, etc. And an explanation is that the neglected workers connected this to their Thatcherism-experiences. And forgot the linking european values of enlightenment, human rights, culture, diversity and freedom of ideas, persons and also goods.

    • Sue says:

      Would you care to wager a small bet about any of that?

  • John G. Deacon says:

    Who said so ? NOTHING has yet been agreed by anybody so this is another candidate for a Piffle of the Week award.

    The reason we had to leave the EU is that it is totally undemocratic and very corrupt – thus it will fail.

    • John Borstlap says:

      The UK, as one of the three strongest members of the EU, could have stimulated a reform, if it had decided to remain in its folds. And the EU is not, as a whole, corrupt: it hands-out much subsidy money for areas to be developed, much as the German Bund balances-out government money in poorer Länder of the country (Bavaria complaining about that, but it is perfectly reasonable). The craziness of Wales, which is greatly dependent upon European money, to vote for exit, shows that it is also a matter of identity and atavistic nationalism that plays a role. In any organisation you can curb fraud and mismanagement and restructure it; to just turn your back to it, is weak and in this case, stupid. It is to be feared that British music life will suffer from this move.

      Time will tell!

      • John G. Deacon says:

        More piffle, I fear. The EU is not corrupt ? They haven’t signed off their accounts for over 20 years which would be a major criminal offence anywhere else. Not corrupt ? Go tell it to the marines.

        None of the stuff written here has anything remotely to do with the EU – all these events were happening long before the EU existed. Get real.

        UK had to leave the EU for reasons of corruption and lack of democracy (amongst a multitude of other reasons). Tonight we hear that Denmark may also be seeking a referendum, possibly the first of many ?.

        So, whilst the UK is now free, and we’ll be away from this failed institution, the referendum result was actually the EU’s Great Day of Shame.

        We shouldn’t be where we are today and that is their disgrace. They should have done something about it years ago for we now learn that some 40% of EU citizens are also grossly discontented with the EU and are thus closely behind us shuffling their feet in the stables.

        If they couldn’t have stopped such Euro-wide discontent just imagine how incompetent they’d be in control of an EU army. Imagine 27 countries all faffing around the table arguing about a military problem ?? Look what a disastrous mess they made of Kosovo ! Doesn’t bear thinking about.

        But classical music and our culture will survive.

  • Alan Poe says:

    Excuse me, but do you ever fact-check what you post on this website?

    The 35K+ salary for non-EU workers is required for permanent settlement only. Work visas can be and are issued for much lower salaries.

    Actually, this threshold was introduced not long ago as a desperate attempt to cut permanent migration. Now that this is dealt, with we can expect it to be removed.

    • Robert Holmén says:

      Some threshold/test will need to be applied to EU-originating workers and since they will soon have the same lack of treaty advantages as current non-EU workers it’s likely the test would be the same.

      What would be the point of giving favorable conditions to the EU if you’ve just voted to get out of the EU because you felt there were too many EU workers in Britain?

      • Alan Poe says:

        Yes, but this doesn’t have to be a serious barrier.

        There is so-called “shortage occupations list” maintained by Home Office making certain professions exempt from all but the most basic checks (like education or criminality.)

        Work visas will still need to be issued, but that is the case for the majority of countries in the World.

        • Leon says:

          sorry, but you talk bullshit. telling you like a person from outside EU who tried to stay and work in london as a musician. try talking sense to UK border and visa authorities, hahaha, they full or sensitive strings and ready to be understanding.

  • Katie D says:

    **The £35000 limit ONLY APPLIES TO PEOPLE ON A PERMANENT WORK PERMIT (TIER 2) WITH A SINGLE EMPLOYER.** This applies to very, very few musicians – and exceptions are made to this for academic and arts industries

    But there is no basis even for saying this, but that’s because no one knows what the immigration/work policy will be when it comes to the EU, or what immigration law will look like in the future.

    It is quite likely that Britain will stick to the single market, like the other countries in the EEA and that means that all free movement conditions will apply.

    Europeans can work in Norway, for example, so they can work in the UK, if it stays like the EEA.

    *IF* Britain were to require all foreign nationals to work under its conditions that it has for overseas artists, people would still only need temporary Tier 5 visas to work — as are now issued to Aussies and other people who fly in.

    But I seriously doubt it would come to that. I think they’d put in an easier new limited freedom of movement/work arrangement to speed everything up, rather than require every European on a contract job to apply for a visa.