Damian Wawrzyniak has launched a petition to change the wording of the European Union settlement status ‘application’ to ‘registration’ and has hit 2,600 signatures within a day.
The chef-restaurateur, who owns House of Feasts restaurant in Peterborough and is originally from Poland, says he refuses to “apply to live in my own home” having lived here for 15 years.
“The wording is really important because I treat Britain like my home, my country, and now I need to apply to my home. If I register here, that’s completely different wording,” he said.
He already has the backing of food writer Nigel Slater and Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy.
“Future generations will be appalled that to appease the hard right we made EU citizens apply to stay in their own homes… You have my full support,” Lammy wrote on Twitter.
Wawrzyniak has also contacted big names in the industry including Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay hoping for their support.
“All those names have EU citizens behind them. Every single restaurateur, chef, big name employ EU citizens,” said Wawrzyniak.
He added: “I don’t think there will be any problems with 10,000 and let’s see how it goes with another 100,000.”
At 10,000 signatures, the government must respond to a petition. If it hits 100,000, a petition will be considered for debate in Parliament.
Research by software platform Fourth last year found that 40% of workers in the restaurant, QSR (quick service restaurants/fast-food), hotel and pub sectors are from the EU – a figure that spikes to 62.7% in QSR and 52% in the restaurant industry. Approximately 2.27 million EU nationals work in the UK.
Theresa May scrapped the £65 fee for migrants from the European Union looking to remain in the UK after Brexit earlier this year, following pressure from hospitality leaders. However, nationals are still required to apply for settled status to stay in the UK after it leaves the EU.
The deadline for applying will be 30 June 2021, or 31 December 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The UK is due to leave the European Union at on 31 October 2019, although it could leave sooner if a withdrawal agreement is drawn up before then.
The petition can be viewed here.