RATHER than "Bathgate no more" and "Linwood no more" we could soon be singing "Fringe no more" and "Celtic Connections no more".

The Proclaimers - famed for their anthem 'Letter from America' - are among a host of Scottish music stars who are warning that Brexit risks devastating Scottish culture.

A new campaign by the Musicians' Union is warning that Brexit that will usher an era "disastrous" decline for Scotland's flagship cultural festivals.

Iconic events such as Glasgow's Celtic connections and the Edinburgh International Festival face being devastated by restrictions on European musicians visiting the UK after Brexit, campaigners say. There are also concerns that the careers of Scottish musicians will be damaged by the limits put on them in terms of working across continental Europe.

Craig and Charlie Reid of the Proclaimers are among the artists who have signing up to the campaign, along with Deacon Blue frontman Ricky Ross, Pat Kane of Hue and Cry, Rod Jones of Scottish indie band Idlewild and singer-songwriter Rab Noakes.

Speaking to the Sunday Herald, the Leith-born twins said that Brexit "will make working across Europe much more difficult and limit the chances for bands starting out to do their first gigs on the continent. It also sends out completely the wrong message to musicians from Europe who make a living in Scotland. We both voted to stay in the EU and its becoming clear that Brexit will be bad for musicians in Scotland."

The Musicians Union (MU) is already organising a petition for free movement for musicians post-Brexit.

MPs and UK party conference have also been targeted by the MU.

The MU says: "Being able to tour and travel to work is vital to many musicians’ careers - and before the EU gave us free movement in its member states, travelling in Europe was tough, expensive, heavy on the admin, and time-consuming."

Ricky Ross, the lead singer of Deacon Blue has also signed up to the campaign ahead the Holyrood debate.

Pat Kane of Hue and Cry is also among the signatories. He said “Musicians are free spirits, or should be. And when it comes to being inspired by music or musicians, we presume no boundaries or borders. The prospect of Brexit limiting the movement of musicians across Europe is dreadful – we must find a exemption to this, for both artistic and commercial reasons.”

Rod Jones, Idlewild guitarist and songwriter, who is also a signatory, said: “Freedom of movement for artists in Europe is more important than ever.

"With live revenue making up the main share of most musicians’ income any restriction on touring and additional costs such as visas will hit artists hard.

"Music is about sharing ideas with people and adding more borders and barriers will only make this more difficult.”

Singer-songwriter Rab Noakes said: "On behalf of musicians I am appalled at the negative prospect of the resulting forthcoming difficulties regarding touring, selling records and creative international collaborations.

"There is no clarity regarding such things as cross-border conditions, visas and work-permits...In fact, there seems to be not an iota of thought given to such employment or trade and certainly no regard for existing cultural advantages. It is absolute madness, and absolutely maddening."

In response, a UK Government spokesman said: "Britain has a world-leading music industry and we want music in all its forms to continue to thrive. We stand ready to help UK musicians and the wider industry maximise the opportunities presented by Brexit.The Government is building a truly global, open and outward-facing Britain. After we leave the EU we will have an immigration system which works in the best interests of the UK."


POLITICIANS in Scotland are backing the nation's stars worried about the future of Scottish culture in the face of Brexit.

SNP MSP Tom Arthur will launch the Free Movement for Musicians campaign in Scotland this week.

Arthur is to lead a Holyrood debate on Wednesday about the impact of Brexit upon musicians and the wider Scottish music sector.

The Renfrewshire South MSP is a former professional musician who played keyboards with a band called Velvet Five.

He said that "crashing out" of the EU with no deal could mean a return to expensive and complex visas, making tours unviable for many acts.

Arthur claimed that many European musicians and artists may opt not to perform in Scotland.

He warned this would deliver a "hammer blow" to festivals such as Celtic Connections and the Edinburgh International Festival.

Arthur said: “Working musicians across the length and breadth of Scotland are rightfully concerned about the disastrous impact Brexit could have on the Scottish music sector. Scottish musicians have been able to enjoy the opportunity of easy access to a market of 500 million people and the freedom to work in 27 other countries.

"Crashing out of the EU with no deal could mean a return to expensive and complex visas, making European tours unviable for all but the biggest of acts, which would equally impact European musicians wanting to perform in Scotland.

"In the year before the EU Referendum, music festivals and live concerts brought 928,000 music tourists to Scotland, generating £295 million for the local economy and helping to sustain 3,230 full-time jobs.

"All of this is put at risk by Brexit. The weak pound caused by the Brexit vote has already hit both Celtic Connections and the Edinburgh International Festival.

"Leaving the EU without securing the status of EU nationals and freedom of movement would be a hammer blow."