Merk argiewe: planningworker

Keir Starmer accuses ministers of ‘total lack of planning’ over worker shortages

Keir Starmer accuses ministers of ‘total lack of planning’ over worker shortages
‘We took the decision to leave the EU in 2016, so we’ve had five years for the government to work through the consequences,’ Labour leader says

Keir Starmer has accused the government of a “total lack of planning” over worker shortages caused by Brexit, as a minister attempted to shift blame on to consumers and industry leaders for the panic-buying of fuel.

The Labour leader also criticised the government’s annoucememnt last night to grant temporary visas to 5,000 HGV drivers to tackle the crisis as “far, far too small” amid shortages estimated to be around 100,000.

“This is a complete lack of planning,” Sir Keir told the BBC’s Andrew Marr program. “When we exited the EU, one consequence was there was going to be a shortage of HGV drivers. That was predictable.

Hy het bygevoeg: “We took the decision to leave the EU in 2016, so we’ve had five years for the government to work through the consequences.

“And here we are on Sunday morning with petrol stations closed or massive queues, supermarkets with shelves that are empty — a total lack of planning and a prime minister cannot take any decision.”

His remarks on the second day of Labour’s annual conference in Brighton came after industry experts criticised the emergency visas for foreign lorry drivers scheme, as it emerged they will be expire before Christmas.

As expected, 5,000 HGV drivers — together with 5,500 poultry workers — will be offered the right to work in the UK, but Sir Sir Keir insisted: “We have to issue enough visas to cover the number of drivers that we need.

“If there are 100,000 vacancies for drivers in this country and the government is saying we’re going to bring in 5,000 visas, there’s an obvious problem. The government response is far, far too small," hy het gesê.

The Labour leaders comments followed an extraordinary intervention from the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, who claimed that queues and closures at fuel stations were a “manufactured situation” created by a road haulage company leaking comments from a meeting with BP bosses about supply concerns.

Praat met Sky News, Mr Shapps said: “We need to ensure that people are reassured now that this rather manufactured situation has been created, because there’s enough petrol in the country.”

Asked who manufactured the situation, hy het gesê: “There was a meeting which took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting in which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to media, and that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern as people naturally react to those things.”

He later told BBC’s Andrew Marr programme that the briefings were “irresponsible”, as he urged the public to only fill up their cars when needed, insisting there was “plenty of fuel” available.

“The good news is there is plenty of fuel, the bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it then we will continue to have queues," hy het bygevoeg.

“Sooner or later everyone’s cars will be more or less filled up, there won’t be anywhere else to put fuel. It’s not like the toilet roll crisis at the beginning of the pandemic where people could stockpile it, therefore it will come to an end.

“We just appeal to people to be sensible, fill up when you normally would. We’ve got this big package in place today in order to help alleviate the pressure and we ask people to do their part.”

Although Mr Shapps did not name the Road Haulage Association in his broadcast round on Sunday, the Mail on Sunday quoted a government source stating the RHA was “entirely responsible for this panic and chaos”.

Egter, Rod McKenzie, van die Padvervoervereniging, categorically denied leaking details of a meeting between fuel industry executives and the Cabinet Office, describing the allegation as “nonsense”.

“I was not in the meeting," hy het gesê. “I was not briefed about the meeting afterwards. I certainly didn’t brief any journalists about the meeting which I knew nothing. It is entirely without foundation”.

Asked whether it was fair to scold motorists for panic buying, Mr Shapps again stressed there was “plenty of fuel” and no shortage “within the country”, as he urged people to carry on as they “normally would”.

“It’s not like we don’t have fuel in the country, we do need to just ensure people are just ensure people are filling up when they need to fill up, rather than thinking I better go and fill up now just in case I need it next week.”