Elton John Brands Government 'Philistines' In Lacerating Attack: 'I'm So Angry'

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

Sir Elton John has branded the government “philistines” over the handling of the music industry in the wake of Brexit.

The music legend said he is “livid” about the lack of provision made for sections of the entertainment industry that rely on travel within the European Union.

He also accused the government of frequently “telling us lies” and shared his anger at the much-criticised one per cent pay rise for NHS workers.

Sir Elton John
Sir Elton John
Kerry Marshall via Getty Images

Speaking to the Observer, Sir Elton reacted to rules that came into force at the beginning of the year do not guarantee visa-free travel for musicians in the bloc, with many touring artists fearing large fees.

“I’m so angry. I’m livid about what the government did when Brexit happened,” the singer explained. “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.

“People like me can afford to go to Europe because we can get people to fill in the forms and get visas done, but what makes me crazy is that the entertainment business brings in £111 billion a year to this country and we were just tossed away.”

Sir Elton, who met with Brexit minister Lord Frost and to discuss the issue last month, said that for budding artists just starting out, the costs of touring within the EU will be “crucifying”.

Asked why there had been resistance from the government, Sir Elton added: “They are philistines. 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 okay with that.

“Look what they did with the NHS. After all that those people (staff) did during Covid, they give them a 1% increase.

“I find that extraordinary. I just can’t live with that. It makes me so angry,” he added.

Elton performing in February 2020
Elton performing in February 2020
Kevin Winter via Getty Images

A government spokesperson said: “We want musicians and other creative professionals to be able to tour easily abroad.

“Short-term, temporary visits for paid performances by UK musicians are possible in at least 17 EU countries, including France, Germany and the Netherlands, without needing visas or work permits.

“However, we recognise the difficulties still being faced by the sector. That is why we are working closely with individual member states to encourage them to adopt a more flexible approach, in line with the UK’s own rules which allow creative professionals to tour easily here.”


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