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European Cafe Workers Could Stay in Britain Post-Brexit with a New ‘Barista Visa’

With 15 percent of UK hospitality jobs held by Europeans, think tank Migration Watch UK is proposing a new visa that would allow young EU citizens to live and work in the UK for two years.
Photo via Flickr user Russell James Smith

Much is uncertain in our post-Brexit world (will the £3 meal deal be but something we tell our grandchildren about? How much smaller can Toblerones really get?). The hospitality sector—encompassing Britain's coffee shops, restaurants, bars, and pubs—is no different.

Many in the industry are already reeling from the effects of a weak pound and rising ingredient costs (RIP Jamie's Italian Exeter). And after figures released earlier this year by the British Hospitality Association (BHA) revealed that at least 15 percent of hospitality jobs in Britain—equivalent to 700,000 positions—are held by EU workers, staffing shortages have become another pressing issue.


Immigration think tank Migration Watch UK reckons it has a solution that will ensure Britain's pints are still pulled and flat whites frothed. In an interview with The Sun last weekend, its chairman, Lord Andrew Green, proposed a new "barista visa," that would come into effect following Britain's exit from the EU.

Under the terms of Green's suggested visa, young people from EU countries would be able to live and work in Britain for a maximum of two years. It's an adaption of an existing "youth mobility scheme" that currently allows those from some non-EU countries aged between 18 and 30 to live and work in the UK for a limited time. Green told the newspaper: "We can meet the needs of pubs and restaurants and maintain our links with young Europeans by allowing them to come for a strictly limited period of two years to work."

MUNCHIES reached out to the British Hospitality Association, which has called on the Government multiple times to address the post-Brexit job gap, to find out what they made of Green's proposal. Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the BHA, told us: "The BHA has already told the Government that the hospitality and tourism industry needs to have access to an EU workforce for years after Brexit. We've indicated that this reliance should decline each year as more UK workers are recruited but with UK unemployment so low we will need to recruit EU nationals."

Ibrahim added: "We have been encouraged by recent announcements recognising the industry's needs and look forward to working with the Government to reach a sustainable solution."

The uncertainty continues.