Boris Johnson does not rule out shortages at Christmas – but says it will be ‘considerably better’ than last year | Politics News


Boris Johnson has not ruled out shortages continuing until Christmas, but said the festive period this year will be “considerably better” than last year.

“I’m very confident this Christmas will be considerably better,” the prime minister said in a pool clip with broadcasters during a visit to a youth club in Manchester.

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South East suffers ‘critical’ fuel shortages

When it was put to him that this was a low bar considering Christmas was cancelled last year for millions of families because of COVID-19 restrictions, Mr Johnson replied: “This country leads the world, actually, in logistics and supply chains. We’ve got very good supply chains.

“Where there are issues that we can help with, we will do everything we can.”

Asked if Britons could see empty shelves at Christmas given the current supply chain issues that the economy is experiencing, the PM said: “We are going to see a period in which the global economy, particularly the UK economy because of the speed of recovery, is sucking in demand very fast.”

The PM’s latest comments come after he insisted in a BBC interview that the fuel crisis is “abating”, despite reports there are still long queues for petrol in some parts of the country.

A shortage of HGV drivers estimated at more than 100,000 is having a knock-on effect across the economy, with empty supermarket shelves reported and restaurant chains experiencing shortages as well.

Mr Johnson acknowledged during his earlier BBC interview that he had known about issues in the UK’s haulage industry for months.

Asked about a warning from the Road Haulage Association in June that a major crisis was in the offing because of the driver shortage, the PM said: “We have known about shortages in road haulage long before then. They have been a chronic feature of the way the road haulage industry has worked.”

Mr Johnson said in his pool clip that the government would allow “controlled immigration” to tackle the current supply chain issues.

But he insisted the UK would not be going back to what he characterised as a “low skilled, low wage economy” underpinned by “uncontrolled immigration”.

The PM said this led to the UK “having comparatively very low productivity, very low wages and that’s not the way forward because we should be a high skill, high productivity economy”.

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PM not ruling out more temporary visas

He added: “We will take sensible measures and we will use controlled immigration as one of the things like any sensible government would.”

And when asked if he would issue more temporary visas, Mr Johnson said he would keep “all options on the table” to tackle the crisis.

The PM said he would keep “all options on the table” to fix the delivery difficulties being witnessed in the UK.

“We’ll take each step as it comes, we’re there to support industries that are having difficulties,” he said.

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Health secretary says fuel situation ‘stabilising’

“But it is fundamentally up to them to work out the way ahead.

“In the end, those businesses, those industries, are the best solvers of their own supply chain issues – government can’t step in and fix every bit of the supply chain.

“But what we certainly will do is keep all options on the table.”

From Monday, army tanker drivers will start delivering fuel to petrol stations. Almost 200 soldiers – including 100 drivers – have been training with haulage firms this week, learning how to fill up tankers and petrol pumps.

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Drivers continue to wait hours for fuel

A total of 300 fuel tanker drivers will be able to come to the UK from overseas “immediately” under a bespoke temporary visa which will last until March.

Some 4,700 other visas intended for foreign food haulage drivers will be extended beyond the initially announced three months and will last from late October to the end of February.

And a total of 5,500 poultry workers will also be allowed in to help keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys before Christmas.

But business groups have said the emergency visa schemes do not go far enough, with the UK estimated to have a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA).

Source : skynews

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