THE UK rejected an EU offer to allow British musicians 90 days of visa-free travel as it would have conflicted with the Tory manifesto commitment to end free movement, a culture minister has said.

The offer from Brussels was on the condition the UK Government reciprocated in kind. Instead negotiators put forward alternate proposals that were rejected by Europe

It's not clear what was in the British offer, but it was branded as unfit for purpose by the EU.

British musicians will now likely have to pay for country-specific visas and equipment carnets, adding huge costs to any touring,

SNP MP Pete Wishart raised an urgent question in the Commons, challenging Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage to explain the government's position.

Referring to his days touring in Europe with the band Runrig, he said: “Touring Europe means everything to our artists and musicians.

“The thrill of that first tour, crammed into the Transit van with all your gear, four to a room in a cheap hotel in Paris, Rotterdam or Hamburg. Using what’s left of the fee for a post-gig beer.

“The dream that when you come back it will be a lavish tour bus, staying in five-star hotels.

“Gone, all gone. Musicians and artists mere collateral in this Government’s obsession in ending freedom of movement.”

His SNP colleague Tommy Sheppard said the decision would have a huge impact on Edinburgh’s festivals. 

He said: “The Edinburgh Fringe is the largest arts festival in the world. I hope the minister will be aware that this event and others like it have a vital role to play in developing new work and providing a springboard for artists to then subsequently tour that work.”

Sheppard told the Commons refusing to maintain a visa exemption for artists, was “fatally undermining festivals in Scotland and the United Kingdom.”

Dinenage told MPs accepting the proposal from Brussels would mean allowing “visa free short-stays for all EU citizens”.

She added: “The EU did not offer a deal that would have worked for musicians.

“It’s quite simple, the EU in fact made a very broad offer which would not have been compatible with the Government’s manifesto commitment to take back control of our borders.”

Dinenage continued: “Let’s focus on the future, if the EU is willing to consider the UK’s very sensible proposals then the door is open… I am very happy to walk through it. I will be the first one through that door.”

However, former Labour minister Ben Bradshaw said it wasn’t entirely clear what the government had proposed to Brussels.

He said: “The minister and Conservative MPs keep claiming that they made this fantastic offer but we can’t test that can we, because they haven’t published it?

“The EU has, it is there in black and white – and on page 171 of the draft agreement from March last year allowing 90-day visa-free touring by British musicians and other cultural activities.

“So will the minister now publish the Government’s proposal so we can see where the truth lies?”

Dinenage replied: “Well I’d have to correct [Bradshaw] because the document doesn’t say 90-days visa-free touring by UK musicians, it is a lot more opaque than that which is why couldn’t simply sign up to that because it would not have delivered what we needed for our musicians and just flew in the face of what the British public voted for in the case of controlling our borders.

“But, as I’ve already said, I’ll speak to colleagues across BEIS and the Home Office to see what more we can publish on the details of the negotiations".

Mark Davyd of the Music Venue Trust hit out at the minister: "There are 359 mentions of the £1.2billion fishing industry in the 1248 page Brexit Deal, and the outcome is a completely unworkable shambles. The £110billion Creative Industries aren’t mentioned once. So let’s see how well that plays out.”