Senior Labour politician Virendra Sharma MP accuses Indian Diaspora Champion and Brexit campaigner Priti Patel MP of destroying British curry sector through irrational immigration rules. A special for Asian Lite News
As the EU referendum on 23 June gets closer and closer the supporters of Brexit get more and more desperate. Cue employment minister and Indian diaspora champion Priti Patel’s disingenuous attempt to blame the closure of Britain’s curry houses on uncontrolled EU immigration.
In one of the more audacious and breathtakingly hypocritical attacks on the EU Patel tried to claim that the shortage of specialist Indian sub-continent chefs in the UK’s curry houses was due to EU immigration to the UK resulting in tougher immigration controls on non EU labour including curry chefs.
There are a number of problems with this opportunistic attack by Patel. Firstly it is entirely within the power and gift of Patel as the employment minister to do something about making it easier to bring curry chefs into the UK. Rather than making it easier to employ such chefs by reducing the minimum salary that overseas chefs can be employed at she has increased it to £35,000 this April. This figure is way over the normal cost of a curry chef and means the shortages will only get worse.
Myself and other MPs of all parties have been campaigning for a reduction in this salary threshold for sometime as south Asian restaurants in our constituencies have been complaining about the lack of skilled chefs seriously impacting on their businesses and increasingly leading to closure. But the one person who could do something to ease their plight has sat on her hands.
Secondly this is made all the more galling by Patel’s totally ineffective performance as the government’s Indian diaspora champion. Appointed by the Prime Minister in November 2013 to champion the Indian community here in the UK and to promote the commercial ties between India and Britain she has signally failed to champion one of the great Indian contributions to Britain – curry. Her total inaction when having the PM’s ear and attending cabinet as employment minister is shocking.
Almost as shocking, but unsurprising, is her desperate attempt to scapegoat the EU for hers and the Tories failure to help Britain’s curry houses. Don’t be fooled. Vote remain on 23 June.