Industry leaders have signed a joint letter calling on operators to write to their MPs and ask for a people's vote on any forthcoming Brexit deal as the industry stands on the edge of a staffing crisis.
The letter has been co-signed by figures including Fergus Henderson of St John Restaurant; Jeremy King of Corbin & King; Jon Knight of the Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group; Ruthie Rogers of the River Café; Robin Hutson of Lime Wood Group and Home Grown Hotels; and David Gleave of Liberty Wines; and is published in full at the bottom of this article.
Gleave told The Caterer
"The reason we have developed a world-class industry in the UK is because of the input of people we have had from other countries and we are seeing people leave and fewer people come. I think for restaurants and hotels it's going to be more of a problem - we will not only lose people but also expertise, and any industry that's world-leading needs to continue to attract that expertise.
"What we are asking people to do is to write to their MPs if they believe in what we are saying. It's up to individuals - if there are enough individuals speaking with one voice, then we stand a better chance of being heard. It could be that the voice won't be heard but at least we will have tried."
Dear industry colleagues,
We are writing to ask for your support for the campaign for a People's Vote.
Why? The last few decades have seen this country's restaurants, hotels and wine importing businesses thrive as the UK has become one of the best places to eat and drink in the world. We have done this by attracting to our industry a winning mixture of British and foreign talent. The threat posed by barriers slamming down after Brexit on the huge pool of European talent upon which our industry relies cannot be underestimated.
We feel strongly that we need to be more active in making the case to retain freedom of movement. Britain, with record high levels of employment, is just not producing enough people to fill all the roles available in our flourishing businesses. We're not convinced that the government has given the retention of freedom of movement sufficient importance in negotiations, so we need another referendum in order to make the case for a continued closer link with the European Union. If we don't, our industry will suffer.
If you agree, we would ask that you write to your local MP to explain to them the damage that could be done to their local restaurants and hotels by a hard or soft Brexit. If you are not sure who your local MP is, or if you don't know where to find their contact details, they are easily found at https://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/.
Be sure to include your home address in your email or letter to demonstrate that you live in your MP's constituency.
MPs will only ACT if we can combine to raise awareness of this issue.
Philip Contini, Executive Chairman, Valvona & Crolla
Nigel Foster, Director, Camino
David Gleave, Managing Director, Liberty Wines
Trevor Gulliver, CEO, St. John Group
Fergus Henderson, St. John Restaurant
Mark Hix, CEO, Hix Restaurants
Robin Hutson, Chairman and CEO of LimeWood Group Ltd and Home Grown Hotels Ltd (The Pig hotels)
Dan Jago, Chairman, WSTA (Wine and Spirit Trade Association)
Jeremy King, CEO, Corbin & King Limited
Jon Knight, CEO, Jamie Oliver Restaurant Group
Will Lander, Co-Owner, Woodhead Restaurant Group
Paul Moran, Managing Director, Living Ventures
Russell Norman, Founder, Polpo
Ruthie Rogers, The River Café
Rick Stein, The Seafood Restaurant
Mitch Tonks, CEO, Rockfish Group
Gary Usher, Elite Bistro's