Question Time: Fiona Bruce grills Grant Shapps on HGV shortage
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Labour’s David Lammy warned that Britain has heading into a “winter of discontent” because of the Government’s approach to Brexit. On BBC Question Time last night, Mr Lammy urged Transport Secretary Grant Shapps to let EU workers come in to fill shortages on “HGV drivers, fruit pickers, caterers and in concert halls”. This comes as a critical shortage in HGV drivers has been blamed for the closure of some petrol stations this week.
A handful of BP stations, and a small number of Esso-owned Tesco Alliance stations, were closed on Thursday due to a lack of delivery drivers.
It is estimated that the UK is short of about 100,000 HGV drivers.
Mr Lammy told BBC Question Time last night: “What we are looking at is a winter of discontent.
“We have shortages of staff, shortages of supplies, and shortages of skills.”
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When questioned why this shortage has happened, Mr Shapps was seen responding “coronavirus”.
But, the Labour MP continued: “No, it has happened because the promises your party made on Brexit have not been delivered.
“Where is the trade deal with the US? Where is the trade deal with India?
“We haven’t got one. Why aren’t we investing in further education?
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“Of course we need to get on with the visa list so these people can come in.
“It’s not just HGV drivers. Its’ fruit pickers, it’s caterers, it’s people in concert halls, right across this country there are shortages.
“You promised that immigration would come down. And you know it will need to go up to deal with these problems.”
@AntFellows tweeted in response: “David Lammy kicks off with shouty left-wing vitriol. Aimed squarely at Brexit. He’s lecturing 17.5 million #Brexit voters.”
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The Government has come under pressure to add HGV drivers to the short-term visa list so that EU workers can be recruited.
However, the Government said it wanted employers to make “long-term investments in the UK domestic workforce instead of relying on labour from abroad”.
Mr Shapps outlined plans to ramp up 50,000 more HGV driving tests each year by shortening the application process and the tests themselves.
He also pointed out that that other countries in Europe, namely Germany and Poland, are facing “similar challenges”.
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