‘The government are philistines’: Elton John hits out at UK ministers over post-Brexit music struggles

‘We’ve got used to governments – especially the British government – just telling us lies every day, and I don’t feel OK with that’

Louis Chilton
Sunday 27 June 2021 13:08
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Ed Sheeran, Elton John and Courteney Cox serenade Lisa Kudrow

Elton John has spoken out in criticism of the UK government, describing them as “philistines”.

The singer was specifically criticising the handling of music and performing regulations in the aftermath of Brexit, describing them as “crucifying” to young performers.

British artists must now contend with requirements for visas, work permits and equipment carnets when touring the EU, which have been condemned by many musicians as costly and time-consuming, and are likely to put many smaller artists off touring the EU altogether.

Speaking to The Observer New Review, John said: “I’m livid about what the government did when Brexit happened. 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.

“We’ve been talking to Lord Strasburger about it, and we’ve been talking to Lord Frost, but we didn’t really get anywhere with him,” he added. “It’s a nightmare. To young people just starting a career, it’s crucifying.”

Asked why he had experienced resistance in his attempts to address the issue, John continued: “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.”

In the interview, he also criticised the government’s handling of the NHS during the pandemic, saying that the decision to award staff a one per cent pay increase “makes me so angry”.

“I’m 74 years of age and I just don’t get this unfairness and this ridiculous ability to lie through your teeth every f***ing minute of the day,” he said.

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