BBC Newsnight’s Emily Maitlis has called the Government “reckless and ideological” when they should have been “pragmatic and prepared” for the potential impact Brexit could have on already disrupted HGV services. However, Conservative MP Dean Russel disagreed with her assessment and dismissed any link between Brexit and the ongoing disruptions. The exchange came after No.10 ordered the army to help ease fuel supply problems as the demand for fuel continues in the UK.
The BBC Newsnight host said: “Nobody seems to be saying it but fundamentally it’s about a bad Brexit deal that everyone saw coming, that everyone predicted that there are shortages and tight labour markets right across a range of crucial industries that we can’t now fill
“And your party didn’t prepare for it.
“They were reckless and ideological when they should have been pragmatic and prepared for something that they saw coming!”
Dean Russell said: “I totally disagree as you as you might imagine.
“You know what we saw is over decades people are saying that, actually, the freedom of movement was a great thing for British workers when it actually wasn’t.
“This is what’s happened after years of people coming out of training to be HGV drivers and leaving the industry.
“And so actually I see this as an opportunity now to build a better industry.
He went on: “Have people be reskilled to get people back into the industry, and that’s got to be a good thing.”
Ms Maitlis asked: “But don’t you wonder what is happening now?
“What’s happening now, so critically here now in our country across all sectors, when it’s not happening elsewhere of the pandemic to this extent?
The MP replied: “Well actually there are two parts to it. First of all, the pandemic meant that we couldn’t do training and we couldn’t do testing.
“So that meant there was a massive decrease in people who would’ve normally be on the roads now who would have passed those tests and that’s 1000s upon 1000s of drivers.”
The UK is estimated to be short of more than 100,000 lorry drivers – causing problems for food suppliers and supermarkets, now fuel supply.
Some petrol stations have closed and massive queues are seen forming outside forecourts.
In response, ministers have put the military on standby, offered temporary visas and training, would help ease supply chain issues.
A spokeswoman said: “The measure to make available 5,000 visas for HGV drivers for a three-month period will provide short-term relief for the haulage industry and is only temporary.
“Visas will not be the long-term solution and reform within the industry is vital.”