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It takes skill to work in a restaurant. Try telling that to the Home Office

The post-Brexit immigration system is a threat to the food industry – and a snobbish failure to understand the value of people who do jobs that benefit us all

Have you ever watched a waiter take a dover sole off the bone? It requires an extremely steady hand and ocean-like depths of confidence to slip the knife along the back of a hyper-expensive fish and slip the fillets away from each other while being watched by the person who paid for it. Have you seen a waiter take the orders of a table of eight and then make sure, without asking again, that everybody is served the dishes they ordered across multiple courses? And then deal with the obstreperous, foul-mouthed drunk in the corner, without disturbing anyone else? Have you watched a restaurant cook fulfil a dozen grill orders at the same time, without losing track of any individual preferences, while their colleague whips up souffle after souffle?

These are the skills which make the pleasure of a meal in a restaurant what it is. Unless, of course, you are the British government in general and the home secretary in particular. Under the new points-based immigration rules announced last month and due to come into force next January, most jobs in the hospitality industry are simply dismissed as unskilled labour. Apparently, it doesn’t require skill to do them. Foreigners need not apply.

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