Shapps argues driver shortage is driven by coronavirus, not Brexit

London, UK: Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has refuted claims that the lorry driver crisis is mainly due to Brexit.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Shapps said: “To say this is an issue of Brexit is completely untrue. What it is about is coronavirus.”

Shapps pointed out that the driver shortage is affecting many countries, including Poland. Germany and the USA.

Shapps said that with furlough coming to an end soon some people might decide to train as a lorry driver. “We have to stand on our own two feet as the United Kingdom. “There are a lot of people coming off furlough. I look forward to them getting jobs.”

The Road Haulage Association has estimated the UK is around 100,000 drivers short, with many EU workers leaving after Brexit. The industry has repeatedly called for temporary visas to be given to EU drivers to help solve the crisis. The association believes that HGV drivers must be added to a Shortage Occupation List, as a key measure to tackle the crisis.

Any plans to speed up HGV driver testing would not be enough, according to the RHA. Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This is a step in the right direction but we haven’t got a cat in hell’s chance of solving the driver shortage without being able to temporarily recruit from abroad.”

Shapps’ intervention came as Morrisons warned that the chronic lorry driver shortages would lead to price rises.

It joined others in saying that higher wages to tackle the shortfall were set to be passed on.

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