James O'Brien reacts as ex-Brexit Secretary blames driver shortage on industry

4 October 2021, 14:01

By Fiona Jones

This is the moment James O'Brien reacts to former Brexit Secretary David Davis telling LBC that the haulage industry's failure to act has led to post-Brexit tanker and HGV driver shortages.

This shortage has led to 200 Army personnel being deployed to deliver fuel to filling station forecourts across the country from today.

Large companies such as Tesco also warned last week that the labour crunch could lead to empty supermarket shelves and panic buying in the lead-up to Christmas.

Business leaders and ministers have blamed Brexit for this shortage, with as many as 1.3 million overseas nationals leaving the UK between July 2019 and September 2020 - however Tory MP David Davis did not concur.

He told LBC's Nick Ferrari: "What went wrong were a number of things, firstly the industry itself didn't pay attention early enough. I used to run a transport company...they didn't do their own work and train their own drivers.

"The Government didn't do enough to push them either, bluntly, we knew this was a problem. We were hoping it wouldn't be but we thought it might be a problem for Brexit, so what have they been doing since?"

James reflected, "I know what you're thinking, you're thinking: crikey, he's the bloke that told us there'd be no downside at all to Brexit, there would only be a considerable upside.

"How can he now be saying that we should've known there was a massive labour shortage on the horizon and cut our cloth accordingly?"

He questioned how David Davis could move "from one position to the other so effortlessly."

James invited business owners to call in and submit a response to David Davis who says "it's your fault you have no labour."

Around 200 military personnel - half of whom are drivers - are being deployed despite ministers insisting the situation at the pumps is easing, with the operation initially targeting London and the South East, where the worst fuel shortages remain.

Speaking to LBC this morning, chancellor Rishi Sunak said the measure was an "extra precaution" and insisted the situation is "improving". However, he refused to guarantee the crisis would be over by the end of the week.

As well as an estimated shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, businesses from meat producers to retail have warned of empty shelves if the shortages are not addressed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to rule out shortages in the wider economy in the run up to Christmas, and acknowledged the country was going through a "period of adjustment" following Brexit, which has cut off the supply of labour from the EU.

He insisted that he was not prepared to resolve the situation by pulling "the big lever marked uncontrolled immigration" to let in more foreign workers.

He said firms should ensure their employees were "decently paid" if they wanted to get more staff.

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