Grant Shapps has admitted Brexit has been a “factor” in the UK’s spiralling energy crisis – despite claiming last week that it is “wrong” to blame the debacle on Brexit.
Although he continues to insist that the pandemic is the main cause of the crisis, the transport secretary admitted on Tuesday morning that Britain’s divorce from Brussels “no doubt will have been a factor”.
But, he added: “On the other hand, it has actually helped us to change rules to be able to test more drivers more quickly. So it has actually worked in both ways.”
But Labour’s shadow chancellor David Lammy told Shapps that shortages of staff, skills and supplies happened “largely because of promises the Conservative Party made on Brexit, which have not been delivered”.
Meanwhile, the EU’s former chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said fuel shortages in the UK are a “direct consequence” of Brexit.
Olaf Scholz, who could replace Angela Merkel as Germany’s chancellor agreed, saying: “We worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the union. Now they decided different and I hope they will manage the problems coming from that.”
Shapps also rejected criticism that the government has been too slow in mobilising the army to help with the fuel crisis, according to The Independent.
It comes as the government announced over the weekend that it will allow 5,000 lorry drivers from abroad to come help the UK, but only until Christmas.
Commenting in a group called ‘Koleka Problem’, George Mihulecea from Bucharest, Romania, said “most of the drivers left because of work condition reasons” and that it is not “worth it anymore” to come to the UK.
He added: “I wish them luck. They think drivers are waiting at the border to be employed in UK. Drivers shortage is just the beginning, the warehouse operators will be the next to leave.”
Vytautas Bielskis from Breda in the Netherlands said there is “no chance” he would come work under the post-Brexit visa rules proposed by the UK government.
Brandishing a middle finger emoji, Marius Blekaitis said: “Boris is hoping that 5,000 drivers will work overtime.”
Blekaitis said this would mean helping the UK with Boris Johnson’s “‘best deal ever’ shit” and then be told to get out of Britain “again”.