Labour party leader, Sir Keir Starmer has warned that Boris Johnson’s inability to solve the raging fuel crisis could ruin Christmas for a second successive year.
The opposition leader believes that the paucity of truck drivers, estimated at around 100,000 by road haulage bodies, could grip other sectors of the economy in the foreseeable future, which is likely to cause another round of chaos among the citizenry.
Starmer called on the government to trigger operation Escalin which would allow for the immediate deployment of soldiers to deliver fuel to supply stations across the country. He also advocated for an extension of opening hours to allow NHS shift workers and other essential workers to get fuel for their vehicles.
Starmer further advocated for an emergency dialogue between ministers, hauliers, businesses, transport unions and training providers to discuss issues bordering on pay, terms, training, licensing and conditions behind the labour shortages.
SurgeZirc UK reports that the opposition leader also suggested that parliament be recalled to authorise the urgent situation of new visas for overseas truck drivers.
It is understood that the offer of temporary three-month visas for 5,000 foreign drivers cannot be implemented without a change to immigration rules which can only happen with the House of Commons in session. However, Members of Parliament are not due to reconvene at Westminster until 18 October, the implication being that overseas driver may not be able to start work until November, he said.
“We’re going to see this driver shortage problem coming back again in different sectors,” said Starmer.” And I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this prime minister’s lack of planning.
“By the government’s own admission, their scheme won’t be up and running for weeks with the first HGV drivers not on the roads until November. This simply isn’t good enough.
“Every day wasted is prolonging this crisis. The government has been talking about issuing visas but still hasn’t done anything. Meanwhile, our essential workers are struggling to get to work and families face a cost of living crisis.
“The prime minister should be taking emergency action today but yet again he’s failed to grasp the seriousness of the crisis. If it needs legislation, then let’s recall parliament to get these emergency measures through urgently.”
He added: “The Prime Minister promised to save Christmas last year and we all know that went disastrously wrong. Now he’s making the same empty promises again.
“Boris Johnson was warned about this crisis and he did nothing about it. He had the chance to make a plan but ignored it. The prime minister needs to get a grip.”
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