Do any UK musicians want Brexit?

Do any UK musicians want Brexit?


norman lebrecht

September 12, 2018

The instant success of Saturday’s anti-Brexit protest at the BBC Proms, organised by musicians, underlines the depth of feeling that departure from the EU will impact adversely on music and musicians’ livelihoods.

I have yet to meet a working musician who still wants Brexit.

Have you?



  • Dave Tuba says:

    There are a handful, yes. I will let them speak for themselves, if they want, but I am not going to produce names for you.

  • Miko says:

    Only 1 or 2 in my band seemed chuffed the day after the referendum, but even they are retreating into coy embarrassment now.

  • Player says:

    They keep their heads down.

  • John Borstlap says:

    All people I know in the UK are against a brexit. All of them are composers / musicians.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    I seem to recall Mick Jagger wanted it. But is he a musician?

    • jaypee says:

      Yes, why?
      Are you like our self-annointed musical taste-maker and also decide what’s music and what’s not?
      Careful here, the place is already taken and I don’t think Borstlap is about to leave soon…

      • John Borstlap says:

        I have to inform you that it’s a double seat, so there’s enough place for an extension of professional correction. And we can always get some extra chairs when required.


        • jaypee says:

          Stick to bitching against Boulez and Stockhausen, Borstlap…
          Hard to believe but you manage to be even more pathetic when you try to be funny…

          Seriously, dude, what are you trying to achieve?

        • Tamino says:

          A two-seater? I heard it’s a bus, with lots of passengers and no driver, that is going nowhere, but from all the shaking from the people inside shouting at each other, everybody inside thinks it’s moving.

  • Allen says:

    Who cares? The world does not revolve around musicians.

    • Gordon Freeman says:

      Indeed! Why, we don’t need an environment in which artists can thrive and actually exist because.. we don’t need .. art … at all?? Wait…

    • Mark London says:

      Well we know Simon “baton stabbing” rattle was against and even regretted joining LSO before the result in2016! Ah that would have been something positive. The LSO sound butchered at the hands of the Rattler prevented

  • Chirico says:

    The concerns of everyone eligible to vote were given equal weight during the referendum, musician or not. What is the point of protests such as these exactly?

  • Player says:

    One or two conductors…! Would not wish to out them. It is the new love that dare not speak its name. A secret club. They are all around you. But where? And who?

  • Sue says:

    Anti-democratic, aye. The people have spoken. Apparently others know better. A sad indictment of our tyrannical times when the minority disagrees and has the means to overturn democracy. Trouble ahead. Big.

    • Will Duffay says:

      I love democracy. I love it so much I want to put the final deal to the people for their thoughts. Surely you’ve no complaint about that? (What final deal, you might ask. Well yes, there is that minor problem…)

    • jaypee says:

      Why do you write like the pussy-grabber? Because you think it makes you look clever?

      Any comments on the demonstrably false claims of the brexit campaign?

      The day after we vote to leave, we hold all the cards and we can choose the path we want
      Michael Gove, 9 April 2016

      “We send the EU 350 million pounds a week, let’s fund our NHS [National Health Service] instead.”

      ‘Turkey is going to join the EU and millions of people will flock to the UK’

      ““repeal and replace” Obamacare with “something terrific” ”
      Ooopps… That’s not the brexit, that’s your hero, cretin donald…

      • Peter says:

        I struggle with some of these comments, because I can’t work out whether they are ironic or serious, trolling or genuine lunacy. And the I end up agreeing with some, and questioning my own sanity.

        However, as a good rule of thumb, if I disagree with Gove or Boris J, then I have not yet gone mad.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      In a democracy…there are regular elections. Not once and then the choice is made for ever. (Hence leavers trying to overturn the remain vote from 1975.)

  • Cash McCall says:

    Britain gets x billion pounds of subsidies from the EU but pays y billion pounds into the bottomless bureaucratic pit in Brussels. Y >> x and the difference–what Britain pays net– is about 9 billion pounds.
    So, most likely those who are sucking on the EU funding teat are hard core remainers, whereas those who were footing the bill (like the fishing industry and lower income earners paying EU tariffs on imported clothing, footwear and food) voted to leave. So you can work out for yourself which side of the income statement the musicians are on.

  • Mijola says:

    I know only 2. Curiously they are both members of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe

  • Garry Humphreys says:

    I’m old enough to remember (and enthusiastically supported) our entry to the then Common Market, where France did everything in its power to keep us out, since when we have been fleeced for billions by this unelected, profligate bureaucracy. Before we joined we imported and exported, musicians and performing artists as well as goods. And we still do this with the rest of the world that is not a EU member. What’s the problem? The remoaners will latch on to any irrelevancy to promote their lost cause. (We all think democracy is great until the result is something we don’t like – it happens every five years at the ballot box.) Grow up everybody and think before jumping on this bandwaggon. Having said all that, the conduct of the divorce proceedings certainly leaves a lot to be desired and is not what we voted for.

  • Hilary says:

    I can think of an owner of a recording label/ book publisher who is pro-Brexit, and someone who used to work for a UK record label. They’re the only two who spring to mind among aquaintences.

  • Derek Warby says:

    I know a few – all of them musicians who will suffer from anything apart from the softest Brexit (not going to happen!). Even when I reminded them about the joys of work permits, border controls, customs inquisitions and carnets, they seemed unmoved. I don’t get it.

  • Tamino says:

    I’m looking forward to cheap holidays in Britain, using my Euros.
    Who knows, maybe a retirement home is possible even, since everything will be so affordable, after Brexit, and the Pound going down.
    I heard in Cornwall there are rarely riots and the climate is mild.

  • Edward McGuire says:

    Yes, of course there are musicians who voted for Brexit. I’m a composer and flautist and campaigned vigorously for leaving the EU. I went as far as resigning as Chair of the Scotland and Northern Ireland Region of the Musicians’ Union (a voluntary position), in disagreement with the policy of the MU. In April 2016 the MU announced its intention to campaign in support of Britain staying in the EU – the same day as I was delivering a public speech on the issue for the Grassroots Out campaign as a trade union representative. Indeed the anti-EU viewpoint of many musicians is represented, from a trad union angle, by such organisations as Lexit, Trade Unions Against the EU (TUAEU), Scottish Left Leave, ‘Workers’ journal, The Morning Star and Radical Options for Scotland & EU (ROSE). Musicians are as divided on the issue as other sections of society and the neo-liberal, anti-worker laws (eg ECJ judgements against collective bargaining) and characteristics of the EU, are just as much a threat to them as they are to any other worker. Musicians toured Europe before the EU and will continue to do so after we leave!

    • David Ward says:

      Well I do know two: one is you Eddie, the other is an old friend of mine, a one-time rock musician turned classical composer and school music teacher in the Highlands, who certainly voted for brexit. I’m not sure that I know any others, or if I do they seem to be keeping fairly quiet about it.

      In general, brexit supporters seem to be strongly of the left or of the right, while those of us who don’t subscribe to that particular brand of groupie-ism and are somewhere mildly in the middle, seem more likely to be opposed to it. Either way, it’s taking up an absurd amount of time, energy and money. When I listen to two opposed people spouting about it on Radio 4’s Today programme in the mornings, it’s not just self-evident that they can’t both be right, but all too likely that they are both wrong.

      In other words, the whole exercise has been a monumental f-ing waste of time to which no-one knows the outcome.

    • Mark London says:

      Well said Eddie !

  • Alistair Hinton says:

    If Brexit actually happens in any form (and with the antics of the UK so-called “negotiators” combined with the possibility that one or both of a couple of court cases in suppot of the cause of all UK ex-pats in the other 27 member states who were denied voting rights in the refernedum might end with judgements in their favour, possibly followed by the annulment of Article 50 and the referendum result on the grounds of illegality), I propose to continue as far as possible as though it hadn’t; the idea that others against Brexit might do the same and flout the law if necessary seems not yet to have been widely discussed but, should those court cases go the way that they ought to, that hopefully will not turn out to be necessary).

  • FS601013 says:

    You would be surprised – perhaps very surprised. But there’s no way on earth I’m naming names.

    There’s also a substantial subset who don’t *want* Brexit, necessarily, but equally don’t buy the “catastrophe” narrative. They tend to keep schtumm now, having seen (once is usually enough) what happens when their moderately expressed opinions collide with the more hysterical edges of Remoaner groupthink…

  • Tamino says:

    Considering that the old Brits voted for Brexit, not the young ones, I’m not surprised about the many Pro-Brexit characters here in this blog. White haired, no future, bunch.

    Now if the young hadn’t been so indifferent and showed up light the old people on the voting boots, we wouldn’t have to be talking here today.

    Rarely has a country been split more decisively along generation lines, than about Brexit.
    The irony being, that those who will be dead when the consequences hit fully in the long term, have decided about the future of the young generations, have stolen their future maybe.

    • Hilary says:

      You’re absolutely right Tamino.

    • Tamino says:

      showed up *like*
      voting *booths*
      (apologies for the nervous spell checker)

    • Player says:

      How do you know the age of contributors, you cheeky beggar – I am in my early 40s! Broad brush and dismissive, just a bit.

    • Mark London says:

      Arrogant ! Figures have shown that 40% of under 25 (those who bothered to vote) were Leave! You listen to The remain Media too much

      • Tamino says:

        I have seen several mention of official polls, and the remain fraction among the under 25 year old was over 70%.
        Please give citations of sources that support your opinion. I gave mine above.

    • David Ward says:

      Well I’m 77 and voted remain.

      In my life’s experience major political upheaval always causes more problems that it’s worth, often problems unforeseen by either side. Better, in my opinion, to muddle along making just those small changes on which we can agree and that seem most likely to make life better for (nearly) all.

      However, we are where we are.

      If it were not another avoidable major upheaval, I’d be sorely tempted to vote for Scottish independence (should there be another referendum) if it might bring Scotland back into the EU. I have nil faith in either the present Westminster government’s or the official opposition’s ability to make brexit anything other than a disaster, whatever might or might not be its potential.

      PS Why do I no longer get e-mail notifications of follow-up comments? Anyone know?

      • David Ward says:

        I suppose it’s only fair for me to add that once I benefited, at least indirectly, from £15,000 provided by the then EEC (later the EU) towards the £45,000 total cost of performing my hour long piece ‘Beyond the Far Haaf’ for 2 singers and full orchestra based on a Shetland fishing disaster (58 men drowned in a sudden storm in 1881). This money was for the public performance in 1992 and its broadcast in 1993. If I remember correctly, £15,000 was from the EEC, £15,000 from the BBC, £8,000 from Shetland and £7,000 from a mix of private sector sponsors (including fishing companies).

        I don’t expect any equivalent from Westminster, but I’m always willing to be surprised.

      • Marky London says:

        Tamino is a Europhile whore of either Male or female gender

  • Luis Taylor says:

    In most democratic countries, structural decisions that may profoundly change the course of a country are usually approved by a “qualified majority”, typically 2/3 of the electors. Majorities close to 50% can easily change in a few months. I was surprised that this “common sense rule” was not taken into consideration in the brexit referendum.

    • Player says:

      Because Parliament chose not to vote for that. The Government, while making it crystal clear it would campaign for Remain, did not wish to be seen to be gerrymandering the result by inserting such super majorities, thresholds etc.

      The 1975 referendum resulted in Remain winning by a very large margin. Other referendums with such thresholds (e.g. Wales and Scotland devolution in the late 1970s) actually fuelled resentment because a bar had been set in this way.

      The default is therefore a simple majority, to avoid this.

      Finally, I think you might concede that Britain is indeed a ‘democracy’ of some years’ standing. As the respect which has (at least formally) greeted the vote to leave, has shown. Unlike in Denmark, Ireland, etc etc.

      That is, no attempt to rerun the same one, though there is now an attempt to do so under a new guise…

  • Mark Pemberton says:

    Just before the Referendum I attended a concert in Poland by a British ensemble. Chatting to one of the musicians afterwards, he told me he was going to vote Leave. I had to point out the irony that he was in Poland thanks to freedom of movement.

    • Mark London says:

      I work in European countries and voted Leave ! Don’t be so arrogant ! Uk Leaving EU not Europe

      • vox says:

        He’s not arrogant at all. Voting leave was a monumental mistake, no matter how one looks at it. Being proud of it still, is moronic. Like eating shit and banging your chest for how good the foie gras was…