Jeremy King–The reply

Some of you may have read the recent comments by serial restauranteur Jeremy King with regard to Brexit. I could be really brief in this post, and pose the reply of: 2 words Mr King; the second one is off, chose any prefix you like. But I won’t, it deserves a proper reply.

There are several things wrong about the article, firstly Caterer editorial team, it isn’t news – it’s opinion and should be filed as such. News, by definition is: “newly received or noteworthy information, especially about recent events” – the results of the referendum were known over a year ago & Article 50 happened six months ago – This is not new & neither is Mr King’s opinion.

Mr King clearly sits in an ivory tower, pontificating to the unwashed masses, as he sees them. He calls the decision that 17 million+ voters (or nearly 52% of the vote) arrived at last June as:

so stupid, so short-sighted, so xenophobic, so myopic, to actually go with Brexit…

So Mr King, here’s a thought. If you are so against it now, then where was your voice during the campaign? Your silence was deafening & presence not missed.  A quick Google search shows not one article pre-referendum interviewing you, Mr King, voicing an opinion – so now it’s more like closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.

The long & short of why 17million+ people decided to vote for leaving the EU is a complex issue; some saw it as a case of ‘sticking it to the man’, others are about control, for some it’s about immigration and so on. But ultimately nobody wants to make the UK a 3rd world country and cripple our economy etc. But don’t call those that voted for this ‘Stupid’.

Mr King clearly has another agenda, hmmm what could it be?

In his interview he states:

I saw on Friday that 43 restaurants are opening in London in September. I don’t know where they are going to get the staff from and I certainly don’t know where the customers are going to come from. We are so brittle, I just don’t understand it.

Maybe the competition is getting fierce, and having minor celebrities frequent your restaurants isn’t a big enough pull any more for the public. After all, most just follow them on instagram or other social media. Let’s face it, after the media & PR buzz of the latest Corbin & King opening has passed, most restaurants fade into the background.

The problem with Mr King’s outburst is this; he has a voice, one, as this article clearly shows, is listened to. So why doesn’t he use it to help the industry? He even said it himself in a Caterer interview:

We need our professional associations to stop hiding behind the parapet and speak out a bit more.

Except the only time Mr King appears to have put his head above the parapet, is to slate potentially one in every two of his customers.

But the long and short of Brexit is this; The Hospitality sector is the 4th largest employer in the UK, is it not a reasonable assumption that this would be taken into account during talks. With unemployment at record lows and staff (chefs in particular) in incredibly short supply, why would you try to kill the goose that lays the golden egg?

Ultimately Mr King, if you don’t like where the UK is going, then leave & become a tax exile, like a former 3* chef.

No Comments

  1. One of the most memorable things Jeremy King said in his interview with me at the award, was a mistake we all make in life is not to see the strength in other people’s arguments.

    The chief strength that I can see in your argument is that you believe the hospitality industry is so strong that the government would be mad to ignore it and “kill the golden goose”.

    I am not so confident. If you look at the education industry, this is a sector identified by the government in which the UK is a leader, and which the UK should back. But the government’s immigration policy towards education is a nightmare: specifically the bizarre inclusion of students in immigration statistics.

    Like it or not, opinion from a leading and successful industry figure is news. And his agenda did not seem very hidden to me. 61% of his staff are European, and he sees them as vital to his business. According to the BHA 75% of UK waiters are European. Yet they are precisely the sort of ‘unskilled’ staff the government risks targeting as mindlessly as they have the students before them.

    • Thank you for comment Mr Harden.
      Couple of things
      “If you look at the education industry, this is a sector identified by the government in which the UK is a leader”
      Unfortunately, it really isn’t. Yes, the top 2 universities in the world are OxBridge, but quite frankly that is like saying our population eat in the best restaurants in the world & forgetting that many eat in a Wetherspoons. UK is middle of the table in terms of education (& that coming from the husband of a teacher):

      61% of Corbin & King staff are European, & 16% are international, that’s an increase of 2% on 2yrs ago. That says to me, that a) ppl are willing to come to the UK & work for him & b)is it possibly because unemployment is at a record low & employment is at a record high?

      Ultimately King may be upset at Brexit, but didn’t hear a peep out of him pre referendum & the supposed impact of brexit (& the already present staff shortage) won’t stop him opening more ventures. So can’t be that bothered.

      • Whatever the UK’s view of its own education, we are one of the biggest exporters in the world of educational services, and one of the biggest magnets for international students, which is why education was identified as a priority by the last goverment ( and yet our current government is not willing to do obvious things to help the sector. Let’s not rely on them too much in helping hospitality out.

        Fair point that Corbin & King’s European staffing level has remained flat. Would the same be the case if the government’s recent draft proposals had already been put into practice? That Jeremy King didn’t make a fuss in the referendum doesn’t provide any grounds to dismiss his views now? Do you not feel labour shortages are a big potential problem for the industry with the near full employment you have highlighted?

        • A Govt press release from 4yrs ago?!? Come come Mr Harden, you must try harder than that.
          UK education isn’t the best in the world, not according to me, but OECD with results from Dec 2016.
          However, as an export(which isn’t what you initially said) it’s value is £17.5bn. Hospitality (indirectly & directly) contributes £160bn, according the BHA’s figures. Hence the reason why I talk about the the goose that lays the golden egg.

          The recently leaked draft proposals were just that, a draft, and hence the reason why RT hon Keir Starmer refused to comment on them on the Today programme. They weren’t actual policy, proposal or guideline.

          As for Mr King not “making a fuss”, are the exact reasons why he should be ignored as a remoaner. As we’ve established, here & on social media, he is a peer of the industry, and awarded an OBE for his services to it. He is probably one of the best people who should have been standing up & leading from the front for the industry. Instead, he sat on his hands, waited when the result didn’t go his way & then complained, bitterly about it.
          He can’t have it all ways.