Grant Shapps roasted for claiming Brexit has helped resolve lorry driver shortages instead of causing them

Grant Shapps roasted for claiming Brexit has helped resolve lorry driver shortages instead of causing them

Grant Shapps has claimed that Brexit has not been a contributory factor to the HGV lorry driver shortage and in fact it has helped resolve it, and it has gone down as well as you would expect.

Asked by Sky News’ Kay Burley how much Brexit has contributed to the shortage, the transport secretary dismissed these concerns and said Brexit has indeed made it possible to process more driving tests.

He said: “I’ve seen people point to Brexit as if it’s the culprit here. In fact they’re wrong.

“Not only are there very large and even larger shortages in other EU countries like Poland and Germany which clearly can’t be to do with Brexit but actually because of Brexit I’ve been able to change the law and alter the way that our driving tests operate in a way that I could not have done if we were still part of the EU so Brexit has actually been part of the solution of giving more slots available for HGV tests”.

It comes after a summer of supply chain issues in supermarket chains and high street restaurants caused in part by a shortage of around 100,000 lorry drivers.

Industry bodies have pointed the finger at Brexit due to post-Brexit immigration rules and workers opting to leave the UK making recruitment difficult, according to the Road Haulage Association (RHA), and they have also blamed bureaucracy and red tape slowing down routes through which goods enter the UK.

Some 14,000 EU HGV drivers left employment in the UK in the 12 months to June 2020, and only 600 have returned in the past year, according to analysis of Office for National Statistics labour force data commissioned by Logistics UK.

Coronavirus has also made things difficult, surprise surprise, as it has created a backlog of people needing to take their tests and has caused some drivers to self-isolate at various points.

Meanwhile, the test changes Shapps referred include making them shorter, stopping the need for a separate test to tow a trailer or caravan and being able to drive a lorry without first passing a test to drive a smaller vehicle. While this is expected to free up slots for more HGV test, as Shapps boasts, it has also been criticised for potentially risking road safety.

Brian Kenny from the RHA told the BBC: “According to HSE, there’s about seven people knocked down and killed in yards each year with vehicles reversing.

“I think it is a step back. More than one person is one too many, as far as we’re concerned.

“Going forward on the roads should be assessed and should be tested. It’s equally important to test properly how an individual reverses and manoeuvres off the road.”

With all this in mind, reacting to Shapps spin, people thought it was a load of hot air being spat out of a car exhaust:

What a pickle.

In an upcoming speech seen by indy100 (not), Shapps is expected to say that Christmas is actually very good for turkeys and maybe he’s right. There certainly won’t be enough lorry drivers to supply them to supermarkets at least.

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