Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted there is no crisis in supply chains however, admitted just 127 visas were granted to tanker drivers. Speaking in BBC Radio 4’s Today, when asked if he believed there was a crisis, Johnson said “no” and said difficulties were linked to the revival of the economy, calling it a “giant waking up”.
Boris said the government had asked the road haulage industry to provide the names of the foreign drivers who want to come to the UK and only 127 names have been submitted yet. He said, “What that shows is the global shortage”. He also spoke about a difficult winter of the petrol crisis, shortages on supermarket shelves and rising energy bills were reminiscent of a positive economic path the country was on.
“This government is doing difficult long-term things. We got Brexit done, which was a very difficult thing to do, and we are now going to address the big underlying issues that face the UK,” he said. Part of the problem was that businesses had been able to “mainline low-wage, low-cost immigration for a very long time. I think actually this country’s natural ability to sort out its logistics and supply chains is very strong. But what we won’t do is pull the lever marked ‘uncontrolled immigration’.”
Johnson also doubled down on his insistence that disruption would be temporary but said it was part of the transition to offering more people better pay and conditions, saying drivers often had to “urinate in bushes” because the workforce was not valued by the industry. He said in the show, “What you can’t do is go back to the old, failed model where you mainline low-wage, low-skilled labour, very often very hard-working, brave, wonderful people, who come in, working in conditions that frankly are pretty tough, and we shouldn’t be going back to that.”
The PM also criticized workers who had not returned to their offices, saying there were Downing Street staff still working from home. He said young people who wanted to learn “can’t just do it on Zoom” and said they would be “gossiped about and lose out” if they worked from home.
The Conservative party conference heard speeches from the Justice Secretary Dominic Raab, and Home Secretary Priti Patel, on Tuesday.