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Curry house owners who believed Leave promises feel betrayed

by Denis MacShane | 13.05.2017

Denis MacShane is a former Minister of Europe and was a Labour MP for 18 years.

Who would have guessed that Britain’s curry industry would be high on the list of Brexit’s victims? Next time you order your favourite curry have a word with the restaurant owner and stand by a vindaloo of ultra-hot anger against cabinet members like Boris Johnson and Priti Patel.

Last year Patel, Johnson and Michael Gove launched a “Save Our Curry Houses” campaign.

The leave politicians implied that, if the UK’s influential curry world network promoted Brexit in their restaurants and to their communities, there would be lots of space for immigrant curry house workers from India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. Patel argued that, “by voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world.”

Vote Leave publicity read: “Every week 3-5 curry restaurants close down because of the government’s biased immigration policy. The EU forces us into the worst of both worlds: uncontrolled immigration from the EU, while we turn away talented people from the Commonwealth and the rest of the world.”

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Hundreds of curry restaurants signed up for the campaign last June. But now some curry house owners feel betrayed.

As Bajloor Rashid, president of the UK-Bangladesh Catalysts of Commerce and Industry told the Evening Standard: “Priti Patel and other people said we would have people to work in the restaurants. They did not honour it. We feel very let down.”

Oli Khan, senior vice-president of the Bangladesh Caterers Association, told the paper: “It’s still early days but nothing is happening. We are very worried that they have given us a false hope. We feel really betrayed by the Leave campaigners. They have actually used us to win the referendum.”

Khan accused Patel of making “a false promise. Where is she now? She is not giving us any back-up. Where are Boris and the other Leave leaders?”

Where indeed? They are standing behind Theresa May as she renews her pledge to cut net migration to tens of thousands a year – a target that is likely to involve tightening up on pretty much all categories of immigration.

The prime minister has revealed herself to be keen on cooking. Whether she likes curries is not clear. At least she did not try to curry favour in the referendum by making false promises to Britain’s south Asian community.

Edited by Hugo Dixon

4 Responses to “Curry house owners who believed Leave promises feel betrayed”

  • Serves them right! The curry house owners deserve no sympathy for the supposed betrayal. They were willing to betray other EU workers, falling for the divisive campaign of a blatant self server like Priti Patel. Ha it’s come back to bite them!

  • Sorry, but if anyone not only believed that tosh, but promoted brexit on the strength of it, they deserve all they get. Brexit will hurt everyone: it’s hard to be sympathetic to brexit promoters who considered only their own selfish interests, as stated in the article.

  • When will voters learn not to trust the Conservatives? They’re doing it again in the General Election campaign, full of empty rhetoric. People have various reasons for not liking Corbyn, but given a choice between a humane being, or a sloganistic robot, surely there’s not much choice.

  • It’s a bit hard to say anything beyond “Well, duh!” on this story.

    I suspect we’ll be seeing a lot of similar ones as Leave’s other promises evaporate.