Fans of a north café were left disappointed yesterday when a notice posted on its window said it had to close because its staff had gone home to mainland Europe.
The owner of Café Ecosse on Fort William’s High Street said that, due to Brexit, his staff felt they needed to leave the country – and he would need to find new staff for the business.
The notice, posted on the Lochaber shop front, read: “Due to Brexit our European manager and team have decided to return to their home countries.
“The café will remain temporarily closed due to this while a new team is being recruited.
“We apologise for any inconvenience to our customers.”
Café owner Asif Rasoul was unavailable for comment, but one of its former workers – Sonja Melnyk, originally from the Ukraine – said: “I am not surprised they have gone home. I have thought about going home , but my partner is from Scotland, and our family are here.
“Things are getting really difficult for people from Eastern Europe. Many people came to the UK because it seemed like a settled country. But these days being back home seems like a safer bet.”
Drew Purdon, of Fort William Retailers’ Association said: “Most people on the high street seem to be fine for staff until October – but after that, who knows?
“To crash out of the European Union without a deal seems as short sighted as you can get. We need to know where we stand in the future.
“Trade is holding up well at the moment in Fort William, the town is reasonably busy and no one is raising particular problems about staffing at the moment – but who knows after we exit the EU?
“It could be the biggest problem facing us next year if the no deal Brexit goes through.”
Lochaber MP Ian Blackford said news of the closure of Café Ecosse underlined the uncertainty and turmoil being faced by workers from Europe and elsewhere who had chosen to make their homes in Scotland.
He said: “We have been clear that the price Scottish residents would be forced to pay is far too high, with lost jobs, household incomes slashed and our NHS under threat.
“Only by staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union can future uncertainty and unprecedented economic damage be prevented. We will not support any deal that threatens Scottish jobs and living standards.”