A trade body for Italian restaurants has called on the Government to include specialist chef roles as key skills for the purposes of immigration post-Brexit.

The Pizza Pasta & Italian Food Association said its research showed that between 40% and 50% of the industry’s workforce in the UK currently comes from abroad with the figure in London at 70%.

Jim Winship, director of the association, said: “The uncertainty over Brexit is already being felt. Some workers from overseas have already started leaving because they feel insecure and this is not helped by the weak pound.

“Unless the Government gives some real assurances soon, this could turn into a flood and many of our member businesses would struggle.

“Although Theresa May has made a statement that those EU nationals resident in the UK for more than 5 years would be offered residency if the EU reciprocates with UK nationals, this does not entirely give confidence and does not deal with the on-going needs of the hospitality industry.

He added: “The vast majority of these workers do not stay in the UK long term. However, without them our industry will struggle as there simply aren’t the people here to fill the vacancies.”