Keir Starmer has accused the government of a “total lack of planning” on labor shortages caused by Brexit, as a minister attempted to blame consumers and industry leaders for panic-buying fuels.
The labor leader also criticized the government’s announcement last night to grant temporary visas to 5,000 HGV drivers to tackle the crisis, which was “too far, too small” amid a shortfall of nearly 100,000.
“It is a complete lack of planning,” said Sir Keir. BBC’s Andrew Maru program. “When we left the EU, one of the consequences was that there was going to be a shortage of HGV drivers. It was predictable.
He said: “We decided to leave the European Union in 2016, so we have five years for the government to work through the consequences.
“And here we are on a Sunday morning with petrol stations closed or huge queues, supermarkets with shelves empty – a total lack of planning and a prime minister can’t make a decision.”
His remarks came on the second day of Labor’s annual conference in Brighton as industry experts criticized plans for foreign lorry drivers to have emergency visas after it emerged they would expire before Christmas.
As expected, 5,500 poultry workers as well as 5,000 HGV drivers would be given the right to work in the UK, but Sir Keir insisted: “We need to cover the number of drivers we need. For that we have to issue enough visas.
“If there are 100,000 vacancies for drivers in this country and the government is saying we are going to bring in 5,000 visas, there is a clear problem. The response of the government is too far, too short,” he said.
The Labor leaders’ comments followed an extraordinary intervention by the Transportation Secretary, Grant Shapps, who claimed that the queues and closures at fuel stations were a “made-up condition”, supplied by a road haulage company from a meeting with BP owners. The concerns were made for leaking comments.
talking to sky News, Mr Shapps said: “We need to make sure people are reassured now that this created situation has been created, because there is enough petrol in the country.”
Asked who created the situation, he said: “There was a meeting that took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting in which one of the freight associations decided to leak the details to the media, and what we saw, as we It’s a concern, largely because people naturally react to those things.”
later he told BBC’s Andrew Maru The program said the briefing was “irresponsible” as he urged the public to fill up their cars only when needed, insisting that “plenty of fuel” was available.
“The good news is there is a lot of fuel, the bad news is that if everyone continues to buy it when they don’t need it, we will have queues,” he said.
“Sooner or later everyone’s cars will be more or less full, there will be nowhere else to put fuel. It’s not like the toilet roll crisis at the start of the pandemic where people can hoard it, so it will end.
“We just urge people to be sensible when filling out as you normally would. To help ease the pressure we created this big package today and we ask people to play their part.”
Although Mr Shapps did not name the Road Haulage Association in its broadcast round on Sunday, the Mail on Sunday quoted a government source as saying the RHA was “entirely responsible for this panic and chaos”.
However, Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association categorically denied leaking details of a meeting between fuel industry executives and the Cabinet Office, calling the allegation “nonsense”.
“I wasn’t in the meeting,” he said. “I was not informed about the meeting later. I certainly did not inform any journalist about the meeting, about which I knew nothing. It’s completely without foundation”.
Asked whether it was fair to scold motorists for panic buying, Mr Shapps again insisted that there is “plenty of fuel” and that there are no shortages “within the country”, as he urged people to “normalise”. form” urged to proceed.
“It’s not that we don’t have fuel in the country, we just need to make sure people are filling up when they need to fill up, instead of thinking I better go and I’ll fill it next week only if needed.”
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /