Do we really want a white-breaded Brexited flatland?

Suspiciously…erm…foreign people are being denied visas for the Edinburgh book festival, because you can’t be too careful with…erm…foreign people. Certain kinds of foreign people that is. Foreign people from Norway are fine, but people who are not quite so…erm…northern are not entirely welcome.

A dozen authors who were planning to attend this year’s Edinburgh international book festival have had their visas refused, according to the director, Nick Barley, who warned that the “humiliating” application process would deter artists from visiting the UK.

The festival, which starts on Saturday and includes appearances from 900 authors and illustrators from 55 countries, routinely provides assistance for visa applications. It has reported a jump in refusals over the last few years.

This year, about a dozen individuals had gone through an extremely difficult process to obtain a visa, Barley said. They were from Middle East and African countries, with one author from Belarus, and had had their applications refused at least once.

Well you know how it is. Middle East. African countries. Belarus. Foreign.

“We’ve had to draw on the help of MPs, MSPs, ambassadors and senior people in the British Council and Home Office to overturn visa decisions that looked set to be rejected,” Barley said. “We’ve had so many problems with visas, we’ve realised it is systematic. This is so serious. We want to talk about it and resolve it, not just for [this festival], but for cultural organisations UK-wide. The amount of energy, money and time that has gone into this is problematic. There needs to be a fix.”

Barley’s comments echo that of Peter Gabriel, the Womad festival founder, who last week criticised UK foreign policy when at least three musical acts found they could not perform due to visa complications. “Do we really want a white-breaded Brexited flatland?” Gabriel said. “A country that is losing the will to welcome the world?”

Or do we want a shiny gilded brassy Trumpland?

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