'Liberty of motion': James O'Brien solves post-Brexit worker shortages

4 October 2021, 15:46 | Updated: 4 October 2021, 15:48

By Fiona Jones

James O'Brien provided a solution to the worker shortage crisis in the UK, which he insisted, tongue in cheek, the Government can have for free as a "gift to the nation."

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

As well as an estimated shortfall of 100,000 HGV drivers, 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.

The issue is extending from the haulage, farming and hospitality sectors to almost all parts of the economy, putting “severe pressure” on medium-sized business across the UK, a new survey has warned.

However James O'Brien has a solution for all of this that he suggests the Government adopts.

"I think what the Government should do now is introduce something called liberty of motion for European Union countries.

"Although, sadly, it won't be reciprocated because we're not members of the single market anymore and therefore won't be able to enjoy freedom of movement...we will be able to offer liberty of motion to our former partners in Europe, and citizens of Europe will be able to come and work here in pretty much any circumstances they want."

He continued: "Eventually so many different sectors will be calling for special exemptions from the rules, special visas specific to their sector, it'll be harder to find sectors that don't need special exemptions than sectors that do.

"At that point a clever Conservative politician will stand up and bring in something called liberty of motion, which bears no resemblance whatsoever to freedom of movement."

James insisted the Government should take up his solution while stressing at every turn that it "bears no resemblance whatsoever to that pile of old pants that we used to call freedom of movement."

"We won't have liberty of motion or freedom of movement because frankly we don't need it...but liberty of motion for all European Union citizens so we can start to fill up the holes everywhere from driving petrol tankers to packing gammon steaks in meat processing plants."

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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