Thank you for your email about work permits for people in the creative industries following the end of Britain’s transition period with the EU on 31st December. I apologise for the delay in responding to your email. As you can imagine, the Coronavirus pandemic has led to a large increase in the amount of casework I am receiving.

As you know, the creative industries employ over two million people in the UK, and Britain is lucky to be the home of so many talented and hardworking performers, many of whom live and work in and around Islington. Before the pandemic hit, the creative industries were one of our biggest exports, contributing at least £115.9 billion to the UK economy.

The Tories promised time and time again that they would deliver for British creative workers and ensure that they could continue to travel to and perform in the EU after Brexit. But like so many of the other promises this government has made on Brexit over the years, the reality for British creative workers has been very different.

I am aware of the huge public interest in this issue, with the petition calling for visa-free work permits for touring professionals and artists passing 300,000 signatures as I write.

Like you, I care deeply about the future of our creative industries and I am angry that British creative workers are now at a disadvantage because the government failed to stand up for them, at a time when their livelihoods were already being battered by the effects of the pandemic.

Recently, Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage said reaching a solution with the EU on the visas issue would be “very complicated”. She said the government would be more successful if they engaged in “negotiations with individual states”. Quite frankly, I don’t think this is good enough. I thought the government wanted post-Brexit Britain to be ambitious, not defeatist.

As Labour’s Shadow International Trade Secretary, I will therefore continue to hold ministers to account on the barriers now preventing British creative workers from freely travelling to and performing in the EU, and urge them to do everything they can to support our cultural exports at this critical time for the creative industries.

Please be assured that Labour are on your side and we will continue to put pressure on the government regarding this self-inflicted error in our trading relationship with Europe.

Thank you again for contacting me about this important issue. If you have any further points you would like to raise with me on this subject, or indeed any other, please do not hesitate to get back in touch.

Best wishes,


The Rt Hon. Emily Thornberry MP

Islington South and Finsbury

Shadow Secrertary of State for International Trade

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