Ex-Brexit Secretary: 'Industry didn't act early enough to stop tanker driver shortage'

4 October 2021, 11:34

By Fiona Jones

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis tells LBC the haulage industry "didn't pay attention early enough" to prevent tanker driver shortages, as the Army begin to deliver fuel.

From today 200 Army personnel are being deployed to deliver fuel to petrol station forecourts while tanker driver shortages continue.

Last week petrol stations across the country saw scenes of long queues, violence between drivers, and depleted fuel storage units.

Speaking to LBC this morning, chancellor Rishi Sunak said the measure was an "extra precaution" and insisted the situation is "improving".

Despite this, Mr Sunak refused to guarantee the crisis would be over by the end of the week, as London and the South East remains the worst hit.

Nick Ferrari put it to Tory MP David Davis: "We haven't got any tanker drivers, what went wrong?"

Mr Davis said, "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?"

He continued that the situation is "soluble", as the Government have now released an extra 30,000 fuel tanker testing places to give British citizens the opportunity to retrain as an HGV driver.

A high number of MPs and journalists have blamed Brexit for this shortage, with as many as 1.3m million overseas nationals leaving the UK between July 2019 and September 2020.

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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