London: A ‘clash of curries’ has emerged as one of the central themes in this week’s ‘Brexit’ referendum in the UK as restaurateurs are arguing that free movement of people from Europe hampers the industry’s ability to bring chefs from the Indian sub-continent.
Ahead of the vote on Thursday, a group of South Asian restaurateurs have made a common cause with Indian-origin minister Priti Patel to call for Britain’s exit from the European Union, saying the move will help Britain’s staff-crunched curry industry.
“Curry is our national dish but unfortunately four to five curry houses are closing every week. There is a clear double standard in the immigration policy, where we are unable to bring in skilled chefs but thousands are free to come in from Europe,” said Pasha Khandekar, president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association (BCA), which represents around 12,000 restaurants in the UK with their roots in the subcontinent.
However, on the opposing end is the UK’s Asian Catering Federation (ACF), which has been backing the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU, while continuing to lobby the government on staff shortages within the curry industry.
The ACF believes Brexit is not the answer to Britain’s curry woes. “The ACF recognises the contribution of EU members, especially those from Eastern Europe, who are prepared to undertake demanding work and anti-social hours in with the hospitality industry,” it said in a statement.