The transport secretary has urged retired truck drivers to get back behind the wheel to prevent a nightmare fuel crisis.
Grant Shapps took to the airwaves today with a rallying cry for ex-HGV drivers to address the desperate shortages affecting deliveries at petrol stations across the UK.
Both BP and Esso have closed several courthouses due to chokes in the supply chain – BP has been forced to ration.
Downing Street insisted there was no fuel shortage across the country and begged drivers not to panic.
But this morning Mr Shapps admitted: “I’m not saying there’s no pressure, it’s just that we’re making a lot of changes and getting people into HGV driving for very good pay from Heaven and Moving the earth forward.”
Ministers want to bring former drivers back into the sector with the promise of higher wages, with some firms offering a £1,000 golden halo.
He added: “My appeal would be that if you have an HGV license, perhaps if you’re retired from the field or find that you’re not being paid enough to make it worthwhile, take another look because right now there’s a lot of good news. Jobs are available to drive the lorry.”
He also suggested that the army was on standby after reports of troops being made to operate the trucks.
“If he can really help, we’ll bring him in,” Mr Shapps said.
The shortage of foreign workers coming to the UK during COVID has exacerbated the country’s HGV shortage, although it is a global problem.
There has been a rift in the cabinet over the relaxation of immigration rules.
Environment Secretary George Eustis and Cabinet Office Minister Stephen Barkley want truck drivers declared “business shortfalls” to bring in more foreign workers.
Business Secretary Quasi Quarteng favors wooing Britons into the high-paid sector.
Pouring his paint on the mast, Mr Shapps said: “What I don’t want to do first is bring in the cheap European drivers and then take our drivers out because they are being hacked which doesn’t solve the problem, it just creates a new problem.”
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