Desperate Highland firms are having to bring in foreign workers on special visas to deal with a major staffing crisis blamed on Brexit. They claim it’s the only way to deal with a drop in income caused by having to partly close restaurants and cafes as there are no staff to work in them.

Neil Morrison, who runs ­hospitality businesses in the Highlands and Islands, and Argyll, has brought in specialist chefs from India to work at Macgochans bar in Tobermory and The Ben Nevis Bar in Fort William.

Neil, of Mull, said: “They are an asset to the business and are settling in well. We’re bringing in a lot of chefs but it’s a lengthy and expensive process, £2000-£3000 for the visa licence per candidate. We started the process last year but it’s only in the last ­couple of months we’ve had the people come here.He is also buying properties for his staff to live in. Neil said:“It was the only way I could see out of it. It was preemptive because I could see other places not being able to open their doors so thought we had better act now. We have also bought flats for staff ­accommodation.”
Stuart ­Jackson, who runs The Lower Deck ­restaurant in ­Portree on the Isle of Skye, said: “We are normally a seven-days-a-week operation and I would ­normally employ 10 to 12 staff for 14 ­services – seven lunch and seven dinner services.
MacGochans restaurant and bar in Tobermory, Isle of Mull, Argyll & Bute, Inner Hebrides, Western Isles, Scotland, UK, Britain,
Pankaj Prasad in the kitchen of MacGochans bar and restaurant in Tobermory
Specialist Chefs de Parties Sathish Kumar in the kitchen of MacGochans bar and restaurant in Tobermory

“We are ­continuing to urge the UK Government to deliver a rural visa pilot to address ­population decline and skills shortages within some communities. The Scottish Government is ­taking forward measures – within our powers – to address labour shortages.”

This includes providing a range of employability support to help people to enter the workforce and our new Talent Attraction and Migration Service.

A UK Government spokesman said: “The points-based system works in the interest of the whole UK. Depopulation in rural areas of Scotland can’t be remedied by immigration as rural areas may struggle to retain migrants for the same reasons as with the local population.”