Meet the musician who sends her MP Brexit postcards

By Mark Savage
BBC Music reporter

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image copyrightJohn Croft
image captionAnneke Scott is an accomplished played of the "notoriously tricky" natural horn

A British musician is sending MPs a postcard from every European city where she performs, to highlight her concerns over Brexit.

Anneke Scott, a horn player who works with dozens of European orchestras, says her livelihood is at risk if she cannot travel freely around the EU.

To drive the point home, she takes a photo at every concert she plays, and uses an app to turn it into a postcard.

She tells the BBC she has sent "in the region of 270" of them since February.

"The bulk of my work is with orchestras on the continent, and it struck me that sending postcards would be a very tangible way of giving MPs an impression of my working life and the implications of Brexit," said Scott.

"If one arrives every day saying, 'I'm working for a French ensemble in Belgium,' or, 'now I'm teaching in Berlin', my hope is that their mailbag is going to give them some appreciation of the gravity of the situation."

image copyrightAnneke Scott
image captionThe postcards are usually taken from Scott's position in the orchestra, although she sometimes gets creative

At the moment, musicians from any UK country can travel and work in the EU without applying for work permits or visas. All they have to provide is an A1 form, which proves they pay national insurance in an EU member state.

But freedom of movement is likely to be a major issue in Brexit negotiations.

Scott believes many European orchestras, who operate "on a shoestring budget" will stop booking British musicians if bureaucratic or financial barriers are imposed.

"There's a reason why we work so infrequently outside of the EU," she says, "because you have to get visas and paperwork."

The musician is a graduate of the Royal Academy of Music, and principal horn of Sir John Eliot Gardiner's Orchestre Revolutionnaire et Romantique, and says she spends the bulk of her working life on the continent.

image copyrightAnneke Scott
image captionThousands of British musicians from every genre play in Europe every year

Before the election was called, she was mailing her postcards to culture secretary Karen Bradley, shadow culture secretary Tom Watson and her local MP Teresa Pearce.

While her own representative has been supportive, Ms Scott was unimpressed by the response she received from the department of culture.

"I got a letter, not from Karen [Bradley] herself, but from somebody in the cabinet, which basically said, 'This is nothing to do with us.'

"They said if you're talking about working rights in Europe, you either have to deal with the Brexit office, or the foreign secretary.

"I was really disappointed to get [that response] when British musicians are going to Europe and representing British culture."

Scott spoke to the BBC ahead of a music industry conference on the impact of Brexit, which takes place on Friday at The Great Escape Festival, in Brighton.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMost of the music industry is instinctively against Brexit. Jarvis Cocker called the term "a horrible word, almost as bad as Britpop"

Freedom of movement - both for musicians travelling to Europe, and European musicians playing in the UK - is one of the key issues being discussed.

Naomi Pohl, from the Musicians' Union, said they were asking for clarity on the issue.

"What we are campaigning for is to have a single visa for the whole of Europe, so our members can continue to tour in the way that they do now," she told the BBC.

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