Boris Johnson’s second minister who comes to the fore to ask for calm and not to fall into compulsive purchases. This time it was due to images of long lines at gas stations following the closure of BP stations and a small number of Tesco Alliance stations, owned by Esso. The lack of truck drivers is causing fuel shortages in the country.
The UK Transport Minister, Grant Shapps, has had to go out on the BBC to ask British citizens to calm down in the face of images of long queues for gasoline. It is the second time this week. Yesterday was the SME minister to ensure that there would be no shortage of food in supermarkets due to the problems that the food industry is going through.
The perfect storm is shaking the country. Not only electricity prices are putting the country on the ropes, with factories announcing production stoppages. It also suffers from a huge driver deficit in the wake of Brexit, which is causing distribution problems in many sectors.
Among them are gas stations. The oil company BP announced to the government last week that it will cut its gasoline deliveries to service stations in the country by 20% , given the growing shortage of supplies caused by the lack of truckers. And today they have confirmed the closure of some stations, which have also been joined by Tesco Alliance points of sale.
Shapps has confirmed that the Johnson administration is considering the idea of using the military to drive tanker trucks to alleviate the absence of drivers, while playing down the idea of loosening border restrictions to solve the workforce.
He explained that Eastern European workers had slashed British truckers’ wages for many years, that it was “wrong” to blame Brexit for the shortage of HGV operators. The UK is estimated to be short of some 100,000 HGV drivers, with the gap exacerbated by the pandemic and Brexit.
Possible turn in immigration policy
As reported by the British media, the Government, concerned about the harsh headlines in the media and the risk of a catastrophe ahead of the Christmas months, is planning to reverse the tightening of the immigration policy approved after Brexit.
According to these sources, the Council of Ministers would be debating approving temporary visas for European truckers, given that the shortage that the country suffers cannot be covered in the short term with British drivers. It would be a temporary exemption to the new laws that only allow workers from professional sectors with qualifications and well-paid to travel to the country, a category in which drivers were not, because it is a job that does not require more qualification than a driver’s license .
According to The Times, the Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, at the head of the group of ministers most intransigent with Brexit, would have rejected these modifications, but Johnson himself would have joined the wing of the Executive most concerned about the effects on the economy and the society.