Brexit Remoaning crushed as Shapps says UK exit has HELPED sort HGV driver shortage

There have been increasing fears over a national supply chain crisis following a shortage of HGV drivers since Brexit at the turn of the year. A shortage of specialist tanker drivers has triggered a fuel crisis throughout the UK, leading Britons into a panic-buying frenzy and leaving dozens of forecourts without any petrol or diesel. Supermarket shelves have been left empty, with fears of a huge shortage of food and drink in the weeks leading up to Christmas, including festive favourites such as turkey.

Remainers and industry bosses have been quick to blame a combination of Brexit restrictions on labour mobility and a backlog of HGV drivers as a result of the Covid pandemic.

But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has claimed Brexit has allowed ministers “the flexibility to set our own rules”.

He also said the UK’s depsrture from the EU has enabled them to issue visas where needed to tackle the driver shortages.

Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “On the other side of Brexit, it’s actually given me a lot of freedom to get on with expanding the number of [driving] tests available, which is the real constriction here.

“Those are changes that I couldn’t have made if we were still in Europe, because of the way that the licenses operated were all set by European directives — so we’ve benefited from some of those extra freedoms.

During the same Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir Starmer launched A blistering attack on the Government.

The Labour Party leader accused ministers of “a complete lack of planning” for labour shortages in the wake of the Brexit vote.

The Labour Party leader said: “We took the decision to leave the EU in 2016, so we’ve had five years for the Government to work through the consequences.

READ MORE: ‘No question!’ Diane Abbot blames Brexit for UK fuel shortages

In addition, up to 4,000 people will be trained as new truck drivers, while letters will be sent out to a million drivers with HGV licences to persuade them back into the industry.

Ministry of Defence examiners will also be called in to accelerate the testing process.

The Government said in a statement late on Saturday: “5,000 HGV drivers will be able to come to the UK for 3 months in the run-up to Christmas, providing short-term relief for the haulage industry.

“A further 5,500 visas for poultry workers will also be made available for the same short period, to avoid any potential further pressures on the food industry during this exceptional period.”

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