British Prime Minister Hangs Onto Power as Musicians Call for Alternative to Brexit

Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Theresa May, U.K. prime minister, delivers a statement outside number 10 Downing Street in London on Dec. 12, 2018. 

As Theresa May survived a leadership challenge, members of the music industry are voicing their opposition to Brexit and the direction of the country's proposed exit from the European Union.

British Prime Minister Theresa May survived a leadership challenge Wednesday (Dec. 12), winning a vote of confidence by 200 to 117 votes.

The ballot was triggered earlier the same day when 48 Conservative MPs rebelled against their party leader, angry at the Brexit deal that she is trying to get passed, which they claim is a betrayal of the 2016 European Union referendum result.

The result means that May cannot face another leadership challenge for one year, although doesn't remove the strong opposition she faces against her Brexit policy.

After 20 months of negotiations, the government's withdrawal agreement was agreed with the European Union last month, but still has to be approved by the U.K. Parliament.         

Earlier this week, the prime minister canceled a planned vote on her Brexit proposal after it became clear it "would be rejected by a significant margin" of MPs, she said.

Since then, May has been meeting with European leaders to try and persuade them to change the agreed deal. Those negotiations are now set to continue ahead of the vote's final deadline on Jan. 21.

In the meantime, a swelling number of musicians, managers, promoters, record labels and producers are voicing their opposition to Brexit and the direction of the country's proposed exit from the European Union.  

"Brexit represents a significant threat to the UK's Music Industry," warns an open letter published this week by the newly-formed Music4EU initiative, signed by over 550 music industry representatives, including Annie Lennox, Paloma Faith, Chrissie Hynde, Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason and Ed Sheeran manager Stuart Camp.

Other signatories include The Libertines' Carl Barat, Blur's Dave Rowntree, Billy Bragg, indie powerhouse the Beggars Group, Warp Records Spotify U.K. Managing Director Tom Connaughton and trade bodies the Association of Independent Music (AIM), Music Managers Forum (MMF) and Featured Artist Coalition (FAC).

The letter says that "leaving the EU's customs union, single market, VAT area and regulatory framework (in whole or part) could devastate our global market leadership, and damage our freedom to trade, tour and to promote our artists and our works."

"In the Post-Brexit U.K., there is a clear risk that reaching consumers and fans will be more expensive, and international markets will be harder to access," it goes on to state, predicting the possible delay and cancellation of live music events that play a vital role in the £4.5 billion that music generates for the British economy.

Brexit will also leave U.K. artists unable to benefit from the EU's proposed copyright reforms, including the controversial Article 13, says the letter. Without those protections, the country's music industry "could be at a significant disadvantage to our peers" in EU countries.   

"No-one voted for this situation, whether they voted Leave or Remain," it concludes, calling for the British authorities to "examine alternative options to maintain our current influence and freedom to trade."

"In a moment when we need balance most, Brexit seems to play to the most divisive and negative instincts of our representatives across the political spectrum," said AIM CEO Paul Pacifico in a statement accompanying the launch of U.K.-based Music4EU, which describes itself as a "grassroots" group "organised by the industry, for the industry."  

"In this atmosphere of hardening dogma, we must not sacrifice the future of our creative economy and the people and small businesses that are its lifeblood," said Pacifico, warning, "We must take care that any next steps in Brexit do not diminish our potential to excel across both the world's cultural and commercial landscapes."