Boris Johnson has admitted the UK’s goods shortages will likely last until Christmas, while adding that “we need to see” a “period of adjustment” post-Brexit.
The Prime Minister said today that he would not “pull the lever” of more immigration in the short-term to stop the lorry driver shortages.
Petrol shortages are still being seen in London and the South East, while pictures of empty supermarket shelves across the country have been splashed across newspaper frontpages this week.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak said the supply chain shortages could last “for months”, with fears that Christmas will be badly affected.
When asked if he agreed with Sunak, Johnson told the BBC: “Rishi is right invariably in everything he says.”
It comes after Conservative Party chair told Sky today: “We will make sure people will have their turkey for Christmas and I know for environment secretary George Eustice it’s absolutely top of his list.”
The Road Haulage Association claims that there is now a shortage of 100,000 drivers in the UK, with wages in the sector skyrocketing to try and attract workers.
The government unveiled a package of measures to try and get more lorries back on the roads last week, including recruiting former HGV drivers and streamlining the HGV licence test process.
Johnson also agreed to issue visas for 5,000 lorry drivers to come into the country from the EU in an attempt to abate the shortages, however he said this was not a long-term solution.
“What we had for decades was a system whereby basically the road haulage industry…was not investing in the truck stops, not improving conditions, not improving pay and we relied on very hard working people to come in largely from European accession countries to do that work under those conditions. That is why that job with that pay and those conditions is not currently attractive,” Johnson said.
“We can’t go back to the tired old model called uncontrolled immigration and get people in at low wages, and there will be a period of adjustment but that’s what we need to see in this country.”
There are currently shortages in some food products like chicken, with the government handing out 5,000 visas for overseas poultry workers to try and fill supermarket shelves.
The agricultural sector is warning there are more than 100,000 pigs that may have to be slaughtered and thrown away this week due to a shortage of abattoir workers, prompting fears of pork shortages.
The UK is also facing a cost of living crisis, with inflation above predicted levels and energy prices set to soar.
Tory MP David Morris broke ranks this week and said the UK was staring into a winter of discontent similar to that experienced in the winter of 1978-79 under Jim Callaghan’s government
“I can remember the winter of discontent and I remember what was building up to it and this — to me — feels very, very reminiscent,” Morris said.