Politicians on both sides of the EU referendum campaign have dragged the great British curry into the debate. Hundreds of outlets are having to wind up business due to staffing issues and some in the £4.2bn ($6.1bn) per year industry have blamed it all on government's tough immigration rules.

Employment minister Priti Patel has said David Cameron has been forced to introduce the restrictions on non-EU migrants in a bid to meet his "tens of thousands" immigration pledge, including a requirement for chefs coming from outside the union to earn at least £29,570 per year.

"This means that we cannot bring in the talents and the skills we need to support our economy," the Vote Leave campaigner told The Evening Standard. "By voting to leave we can take back control of our immigration policies, save our curry houses and join the rest of the world."

But Labour's Keith Vaz, who has urged the government to lower the Tier 2 visa scheme's minimum salary requirement for chefs, accused Patel of "divide and rule politics of the worst kind".

The Leicester East MP, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: "The problems facing Britain's curry houses could easily be solved by lowering the salary requirement for chefs recruited from abroad.

"But Priti Patel has failed to address this issue and is now conveniently using EU migration as a scapegoat. This is divide and rule politics of the worst kind.

"The Leave campaign are determined to play people off against each other, but the hugely damaging impact of leaving the single market would be felt by us all no matter our background. We should have no truck with those who try to divide our society and wreck our economy."

Priti Patel, employment minister
Employment minister Priti Patel says a 'leave' vote at the 23 June ballot will help preserve curry housesGetty