Brexit has been defended as a “good thing” for Britain’s HGV driving industry amid attempts to link the EU referendum result with supplies chain problems and shortages at petrol stations. Andrew Eburne, managing director of J Coates HGV Services Ltd, has told GB News that, far from the lorry driver shortage being a result of the UK leaving the bloc, Britons are “incentivised” to apply for driver jobs as pay has increased.
Mr Eburne told GB News: “Brexit is a good thing for the industry or a good thing for the country as regards to the driver situation.
“Before Brexit, the industry was relying on cheap labour coming in from Europe. No doubt about that.
“Which then prevented or it did not incentivise UK citizens to do those jobs because they didn’t feel that it was paid enough.
“Now the wages are going through the roof we get inundated with phone calls with people wanting to be drivers.”
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Mr Eburne continued: “We are seeing on a daily basis a lot of older drivers coming back to the industry because the wages are going up.
“They have gone away done something else and come back.
“There’s guys who just want to do part-time work, it gives you such a wide variety of work.
“There is always going to be a need for drivers.”
Almost 200 military personnel – including 100 drivers – have been undertaking training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation at petrol stations, which ministers insist is stabilising.
The Government also announced that a temporary visa scheme for nearly 5,000 foreign food haulage drivers that was due to expire on December 24 will now be extended to the end of February, following criticism of its attractiveness to drivers.
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Steve Barclay said: “The Government has taken decisive action to tackle the short-term disruption to our supply chains, and in particular the flow of fuel to forecourts.
“We are now seeing the impact of these interventions with more fuel being delivered to forecourts than sold and, if people continue to revert to their normal buying patterns, we will see smaller queues and prevent petrol stations closing.”
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Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng added: “UK forecourt stock levels are trending up, deliveries of fuel to forecourts are above normal levels, and fuel demand is stabilising.
“It’s important to stress there is no national shortage of fuel in the UK, and people should continue to buy fuel as normal.”
The Government has said there is no national fuel shortage, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Daily Mail that there is global disruption to supply chains in other industries.
He told the paper: “These shortages are very real”, adding: “We’re seeing real disruptions in supply chains in different sectors, not just here but around the world. We are determined to do what we can to try to mitigate as much of this as we can.”