BORIS Johnson’s government is guilty of inflicting an “unforgivable” blow on Scotland’s cultural life, according to the SNP.

In a move labelled “disgraceful and shameful” by Pete Wishart MP, the Tories in London rejected an offer of visa-free travel across the EU for touring musicians, as they did not want to extend the same courtesy to EU artists visiting the UK.

The EU ordinarily offers this arrangement as “standard” in its trade deals with countries, according to reports in the Independent, and countries including the US and Saudi Arabia take advantage of it.

“It is usually in our agreements with third countries, that [work] visas are not required for musicians. We tried to include it, but the UK said no,” an EU source close to the negotiations told that paper.

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The UK reportedly refused to offer 90-day visas to musicians from the EU as it clashed with Priti Patel’s immigration crackdown. Instead, EU artists must apply for visas to visit for more than 30 days, provide proof of savings, and show a sponsorship certificate from an event organiser.

UK musicians touring the EU will need to apply for single-use visas for every country they visit. Scots singer Iona Fyfe said this “will simply make it financially unviable to tour in Europe”.

Wishart, now an SNP MP but formerly a band member of both Runrig and Big Country, said Westminster’s decision meant the “continent is now more or less closed to UK artists and it seems the Tories could not care less”.

He went on: “The decision to leave performers off the list of workers permitted to enter the UK is utterly disgraceful and shameful.

The National: Award-winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe said the visa's loss was a 'great shame'Award-winning Scots singer Iona Fyfe said the visa's loss was a 'great shame'

“Not only is it another slap in the face for our aspiring performers from Scotland and across the UK after an incredibly tough year - in which they received little to no support from the UK Government – but it may mean fans are unable to see their favourite bands here in the UK.

“A continent is now more or less closed to UK artists and it seems the Tories could not care less. Touring Europe means everything to our artists and massively helps Scotland’s international reputation, which has now been seriously put at risk by the narrow-minded Tories at Westminster.”

Minister for Further Education, Richard Lochhead said it was “unforgivable and a huge blow” to Scotland’s cultural life.

He added: “It seems the EU offered a standard exemption of work visas for UK musicians touring abroad but the anti-European Conservatives rejected it and publicly blamed the EU and are now wrecking more livelihoods.”

Cabinet Office minister and peer Nicholas True said the Government “proposed including the work done by musicians, artists and entertainers, and their accompanying staff, in the list of permitted activities for short-term visitors.

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“In practice, this would have delivered an outcome closer to the UK’s approach to incoming musicians, artists and entertainers, but these proposals were, sadly, rejected by the EU.”

A petition on the UK Government’s website calling for Westminster to “seek Europe-wide visa-free work permit for touring professionals and artists” has already accrued over 235,000 signatures, more than double the 100,000 needed to secure consideration of a debate on the issue in parliament, and more than 20 times the 10,000 needed to secure a Government response.

Wishart said he would be “urging the UK Government to U-turn on their callous decision to exclude performers and musicians from work permits and ensure these extra visa costs will not be the final curtain call for many artists".

He added: “This is yet another in a long list of reasons why Scotland would be better off as an independent country inside the EU.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: "The UK pushed for a more ambitious agreement with the EU on the temporary movement of business travellers, which would have covered musicians and others, but our proposals were rejected by the EU.”