HGV driver shortage ‘not caused by Brexit’ says Isabel Oakeshott
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David Lammy took issue with the agreement Boris Johnson negotiated with the European Union to regulate Britain’s trading relationship with the bloc following Brexit. The Labour frontbencher cited the UK’s exit from the EU as one of the main causes behind the disruption to deliveries of good the country has been experiencing. Speaking to the BBC, Mr Lammy suggested a Labour government would seek to reopen trade talks with Brussels to change the current trade agreement.
He said: “There are challenges for hauliers, of course, right across Europe. But let’s be clear: there are no queues in Spain, in Germany or France.
“So what’s the difference? The difference is that we exited the European Union on Boris’s deal we’re out of a customs union, the cabotage system that were set up that allowed drivers to come here and go back with goods, and the tariffs that we now have mean the drivers aren’t coming.”
Challenged on what a Labour government would do to improve the agreement, Mr Lammy said: “This is his deal. When we come to government, we’ll have to look at how we fix his deal.”
“Let’s be clear, shortages right across the country, shortages of fruit pickers, shortages of builders, shortages in terms of lorry drivers.
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“All of that is down to Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Priti Patel, Dominic Rabb and the promises they made to the British people.”
Mr Lammy was later picked up on the fact Labour had voted to pass Mr Johnson’s trade deal with the European Union.
But the Labour frontbencher said: “This was his deal, we hold him to account for his deal.
“What it means is – why would drivers come here, when they are going back without goods, when they have got to pay tariffs? They would rather be in another country in Europe.”
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Brexit detractors have partially blamed Britain’s withdrawal from the EU for the severe shortages of HGV drivers that have been affecting the British supply chain.
A large number of lorry drivers hailing from the continent returned to their countries during the lockdown and have either chosen not to return to the UK or have been hindered by the extra border red tape.
However, Brexiteers have dismissed the links with Brexit and noted other EU countries, like Poland and Germany, have also been experiencing shortages.
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