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Congrats & Condemnation: UK Music Business Reacts to Boris Johnson’s Resounding Election Victory

As the dust settles on another big night in British politics, artists and trade bodies from across the U.K. music industry have been speaking out on Boris Johnson's decisive general election victory.

LONDON — As the dust settles on another big night in British politics, artists and trade bodies from across the U.K. music industry have been speaking out on Boris Johnson‘s decisive general election victory.

On the artist side, grime star Stormzy — a vocal supporter of defeated Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn — told BBC 1Xtra that the election result “felt like a dark cloud.”

“Even waking up today, you can feel it. It’s in the air, it’s in your bones,” Stormzy said on The 1Xtra Breakfast Show with Dotty.

Lily Allen, who also publicly backed Corbyn, hit out at what she called “unchecked targeted bespoke propaganda” on Twitter and said “we need to start to taking this seriously.” She appears to have since deleted her Twitter account.

Artist supporters of Boris Johnson were less visible, although it’s a safe assumption that many of the U.K.’s millionaire musicians will be breathing a sigh of relief that Labour didn’t win power, given the party’s pledge to increase taxes on the wealthy.

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As to be expected, music trade bodies took a more cautious and measured tone to the dramatic shift in political landscape, which gives the Conservative Party a large majority and, according to Boris Johnson, gives him a mandate “get Brexit done” and take the U.K. out of the European Union by January 31.

Following the decisive election victory, the pound climbed more than 3 cents against the US dollar to $1.35, its highest level since May 2018, as well as surging against the Euro.

“This clear result should help move the country beyond the Brexit impasse and provide the U.K. with a much-needed period of political stability,” said Geoff Taylor, chief executive of labels trade body BPI.

He called upon the government to now deliver a trade deal with the EU and international markets that boost British music exports and minimize barriers to trade, “including simple travel arrangements for UK performers.”

Michael Dugher, outgoing CEO of umbrella organization UK Music, echoed those sentiments, congratulating the prime minister while stressing that securing a trade deal with the EU was a top priority.  

“That deal needs to ensure that artists, creators and everyone involved with the UK music industry can move around the EU to do their jobs,” said Dugher. “It must also make sure that we have a legal framework to make the UK the world’s best place to make content. Copyright should be protected and enhanced in any new trade deals.”

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Dugher additionally called for a “laser-like focus” on increasing music education in schools and doing more to protect small music venues, large numbers of which have closed throughout the country over the past decade.

Music Managers Forum chief executive Annabella Coldrick pushed the government to make sure British musicians’ “immense cultural impact” was protected in the post-Brexit world. 

“Changes to our terms of trade with Europe and associated free movement directly impact on our international artists livelihoods, as well as their managers based here, many of whom are EU citizens,” said Coldrick, pressing for the most “open trade deals possible.”

She also called for the new administration to implement the EU Copyright Directive, improving transparency and ensuring fairer remuneration for creators and rights holders. “The U.K. cannot afford to fall behind on these vital reforms,” said Coldrick.