“If it affects me, it will affect every restaurant and every farm and everyone in the food industry, which is the biggest industry on the planet,” Oliver tells Good Housekeeping UK in their January issue.
The vote, which has the U.K. on track to be withdrawn from the European Union by 2019, will make it even harder for restaurants to find workers, Oliver says. “We are constantly short-staffed. We haven’t got queues of people wanting jobs. We haven’t got enough chefs. It’s an impossibility that Britain can function without European staff.”
Oliver, who owns multiple restaurants in London and a chain of Italian restaurants across the U.K., is not convinced about the solutions that state officials are presenting. “As far as I’m told by the Government, it is going to be law that every restaurant has to have apprenticeships, which is kind of cute and nice, but you can’t force it if there is no one who wants it,” he says.
RELATED VIDEO: Jamie Oliver Battles L.A. in Food Revolution
The EU has a free migration policy, which means citizens of member states are free to move to any other country within it. A major part of the argument for Brexit revolved around immigration, with concerns that foreign workers are depressing wages and making it more difficult for Britons to get jobs.
After the vote took place in June, the Wall Street Journal reported that 28% of British hospitality workers are foreign-born, with nearly half of those coming from the countries in the EU. The country also faces a well-documented shortage of chefs.