Musicians want Brexit rethink

Geldof, Sheeran, Ora call EU exit serious madness

Ed Sheeran
Ed Sheeran
Image: Supplied

British musicians including Ed Sheeran and Rita Ora wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Theresa May on Sunday warning that Brexit is “serious madness” and threatens every aspect of the music industry.

The letter, organised by Bob Geldof and backed by dozens of pop, rock and classical heavyweights, called on May to rethink leading Britain out of the European Union.

“We are about to make a very serious mistake regarding our giant industry and the vast pool of yet undiscovered genius that lives on this little island,” the letter, published in The Observer, said.

“We have decided to put ourselves inside a self-built cultural jail!

“[It is] the very opposite of wall-destroying, prejudice-denying, ideas-generating that is the very essence of contemporary music.”

Britain voted narrowly to leave the EU in a divisive 2016 referendum and is set to leave in March 2019.

May has repeatedly said that the EU’s freedom of movement rules would no longer apply to Britain after Brexit.

The open letter – backed by Damon Albarn, Jarvis Cocker, Simon Rattle and Brian Eno – argued that Britons’ domination of the music industry globally would be threatened by this and other effects of Brexit.

It noted that everything from touring, sales, copyright laws and royalties could all be harmed and said Britain should instead remain inside the EU to lead its reform.

“This is all a serious madness. We must take back our future,” the letter said.

“We must reform and restructure the EU. When Europe is in a mess, the Brits get stuck in. They don’t withdraw, they double down.”

Geldof told The Observer he would like to see a second referendum on remaining inside the bloc.

“I am completely committed to having a democratic public vote to prevent the whole Brexit thing screwing us for the future,” he said.

Meanwhile, May appealed to wavering British voters ahead of a defining few months in which she hopes to secure a Brexit deal and face down opponents who say her EU exit plan is too hard, too soft, or just plain wrong.

May, tasked with delivering Britain’s exit from the European Union, must find a way through deadlocked talks in Brussels and then convince a sceptical parliament to back the outcome.

On Sunday, she launched an unusual plea for the backing of centre-ground voters who had previously backed the Labour Party but felt alienated by a shift to the left under current Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

“I want voters who may previously have thought of themselves as Labour supporters to look at my government afresh,” May wrote in an article for The Observer.

“They will find a decent, moderate and patriotic programme.”

Hot off the heels of a speech at her annual conference which polls showed was well received, May sought to reinforce her message that the end of over eight years of austerity was in sight, and that she was capable of delivering reform beyond Brexit.

Labour called her message on austerity a con and said she was making “desperate pleas in an attempt to revive her failing administration”.

Labour’s left-wing leadership have promised to vote against May’s deal unless it meets their tests – which it is currently unlikely to do.