Roger Daltrey has denied changing his opinion of the European Union after signing a letter criticising the Government’s Brexit deal for not including visa-free travel for musicians.
The prominent Brexiteer and frontman of The Who, 76, has previously dismissed the impact leaving the EU might have on the UK music industry.
He said the Government should have made the easing of restrictions for touring performers a “higher priority” during negotiations, and that he remains glad to be free of “Brussels, not Europe”.
His comments came after he joined more than 100 stars, from pop singers to classical composers, saying performers had been “shamefully failed” by the post-Brexit travel rules.
The letter, published in The Times and backed by Ed Sheeran and Sting, said there is a “gaping hole where the promised free movement for musicians should be”.
Daltrey’s decision to sign the letter prompted criticism from some on social media.
The veteran rocker told the PA news agency in a statement: “I have not changed my opinion on the EU. I’m glad to be free of Brussels, not Europe.
“I would have preferred reform, which was asked for by us before the referendum and was turned down by the then president of the EU.
“I do think our Government should have made the easing of restrictions for musicians and actors a higher priority.
“Every tour, individual actors and musicians should be treated as any other ‘Goods’ at the point of entry to the EU with one set of paperwork.
“Switzerland has borders with five EU countries, and trade is electronically frictionless. Why not us?”
This week a minister said “the door is open” if the EU was willing to “consider the UK’s very sensible proposals” on visa arrangements for musicians.
Culture minister Caroline Dinenage said the EU rejected the UK’s plan but said the Government is willing to discuss the situation again.
Ms Dinenage said a 90-day visa-free travel period for musicians was not offered by the EU, contrary to previous reports.
An online petition calling for a visa-free travel cultural work permit with the EU has so far attracted more than 267,000 signatures.