Lorry Driver Shortage: Grant Shapps Skewered As New Rules Appear To Go Against The Very Principle Of Brexit

"I never thought that Brexit should be about inconveniencing ourselves," the transport secretary said.
Grant Shapps tried to explain the new HGV driver rules
Grant Shapps tried to explain the new HGV driver rules
Ian Forsyth via Getty Images

Grant Shapps tried to explain the thinking behind his new HGV driving rules, which will allow EU lorry drivers unlimited pick-ups and drop-offs in the UK, during the Today programme on Friday.

The transport secretary’s six-month rule is an attempt to amend the fuel and food shortages in Britain triggered by delays in national supply chains.

However, co-host of BBC Radio 4 Today programme Nick Robinson told Shapps that this rule is “the opposite of what you did as a result of Brexit”.

Robinson continued: “You tightened cabotage rules when Britain left the EU. You are now loosening them again.

“It won’t benefit British drivers going to Europe, so why are you doing it?”

Shapps replied: “The great thing about having our own freedoms to do this – by the way it’s completely untrue that we don’t have the powers to do this, we absolutely do – the great thing about having that independence is that we can flex to suit our own domestic markets, and that’s exactly what this will do.

“It will give us six months of additional capacity – it’s the equivalent of a few thousand HGV drivers.”

Robinson then pointed out: “You said Brexit would give us more control – what you’ve effectively done with he industry things, is make it easier for foreign drivers to operate here while not making it any easier for British lorry drivers to operate in the EU, so our workers are actually at a disadvantage, both here and there.”

The transport secretary replied: “First of all, I would say it has clearly given us control over when we wanted to do this, for how long and it’s a limited period of time.

“Secondly, I never thought that Brexit should be about inconveniencing ourselves, so why would we not want to do things that are sensible, proportionate, and give us additional resilience during what is a global issue of supply chains?”

Many Brexit critics would point out that the UK is suffering to a greater extent than its European neighbours because its exit from the EU triggered a worker shortage.

This new measure to allow European drivers greater freedom with UK drop-offs follows the failure of a different scheme from last month.

The government tried to introduce a temporary three-month visa scheme for overseas drivers in September, but reportedly only 27 drivers applied in total.

Downing Street were looking for hundreds of drivers to fill the gaps in the industry.


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