Inside track Dear Uncle Boris… from the… – The Caterer

David Moore clears up a few misconceptions with our esteemed leader.

I hope all is well with you and you enjoyed your short break in the sunshine. You deserved it, and Marbella is such a lovely spot; maybe you could put a kind word in with that nice boy Zac Goldsmith, I could really do with a break from it all.

I don’t like to complain and add to your worries, as I know it will keep you awake at night, but maybe we can think of each other about 4am when I, and a great many other business people, are worrying about the day ahead, the week ahead with no light at the end of the tunnel.

I was pretty upset with you recently. I was accused of being drunk, yes, me! I totally deny it and would happily take a test to prove it. Drunk on cheap labour was the accusation and it was firmly trussed at me, and all SMEs. You hurt my feelings! It was not the Uncle Boris I know so well. I feel like you are distancing yourself from me, for your new friends, in those Red Johnny Come Lately places; they will ditch you without a moment’s thought.

On the cheap labour front, I have always paid over and above the minimum wage, something that is set by government and yes, I know you weren’t always in power (it hurts to hear that) but you do have a minimum wage policy which we over-subscribe to. Now all I hear is a “high-wage, high-skill Britain” which is admirable, but, someone still has to wash-up, clean down, make teas and coffees and carry trays. And I can’t recruit at any price currently as the bodies are simply not out there.

I think this is the time to mobilise the armed forces to rescue hospitality. Could I get two infantry soldiers? They would be useful to carry trays and assist generally. I know the work is very basic, with no real skill level, so not on your ‘to-do’ list but any help would be appreciated.

The migration lever could just be renamed the migration tap, and you could give it a twist if you wanted to. A young person (18 to 24 years), two-year, work/holiday visa welcoming the youth of the EU back to these shores would be an easy and simple start. Back in 1996, I employed a young Swedish student Klas Ljungquist; he left Pied à Terre inspired by what we were doing and he now owns and runs two fine restaurants in Sweden; what we do really does have an effect on peoples’ lives.

I know you think we had years to plan for Brexit, but I was just busy keeping my head above the water back then and didn’t really have a handle on how it was going to go so badly.

I am guessing you were thinking hospitality was raking it in. I mean all those jobs we created for 18- to 24-year-olds, all the young people we skilled up to have worthwhile careers in a growing and much-loved industry. Let us not forget the taxes we paid, VAT generated, National Insurance, pension contributions, PAYE, stamp duty, it goes on and on. Ask Rishi, he’ll tell you. But I get the feeling you wanted to give me a kick in bollocks. We’ve had it too good for too long, is that what you thought? It kind of feels like that to me.

A customer recently said that my staff wearing trainers put him off his meal, that it was not a Michelin-starred approach. But we are, like most of the industry, running a marathon every day to cope with staff shortages. And I don’t know how long we can keep going. Zac, that holiday in Marbella would really put me back on my feet…

Yours truly,

The UK’s hospitality industry
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