Top British-Bengali chef Oli Khan has hit out at the “lies” he feels his community was sold in an effort to boost the Leave vote in 2016 and has pledged to “work twice as hard to secure a People’s Vote” in response.
Writing for the Guardian, Khan recounts how his Bangladesh Caterers Association was courted by leading Brexiters:
Both Priti Patel and Boris Johnson approached us to collaborate with and support the Save Our Curry Houses campaign set up by Vote Leave. They said if we were to support the leave campaign, they would ensure we were able to get more chefs from south Asia by relaxing immigration rules with lower salary thresholds to hire staff from outside the EU.
And we made the mistake of believing them.
We were – and still are – struggling to get chefs to Britain from south Asia as the rules state you have to pay a salary of £35,000 to offer a curry chef’s job to a south Asian: a sum that is simply unthinkable for a large number of smaller restaurants.
He says Brexit is already damaging the British curry industry:
Brexit is already harming the nation’s curry houses. Many of the estimated 10,000 EU citizens employed in our industry have quit their jobs amid continued uncertainty over their future. The treatment of these workers from other countries and the rise in xenophobia since the referendum should shame us all, particularly those of us from an immigrant background.
The Brexit being proposed will damage our businesses and make our communities poorer. Nor will leaving the EU provide any clarity or closure: the only guarantee is that successive governments will go back and forth to Brussels trying to make sense of something that makes no sense for Britain.
And concludes that British curry houses must now back a People’s Vote:
Many people in my community feel used. We were taken as fools by the leave campaign who, once they got what they needed, have deserted us.
But people in my community are not stupid. If I helped bring about Brexit, I will now work twice as hard to secure a people’s vote so that, together, we can help put this right.
Notes to editors
The article can be read here: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/feb/15/brexit-lies-curry-vote-leave-restaurant-industry