‘We’re short of HGV drivers because the UK Gov took us out of the EU’, says Drakeford
There is a shortage of HGV drivers because the UK Government “took us out of the European Union”, according to Mark Drakeford.
The First Minister was responding to Tory Senedd member Laura Anne Jones, who asked what the Welsh Government was doing to address the “lack of skilled lorry drivers” when he made the comments.
The lack of drivers for heavy goods vehicles, has led to food shortages in supermarkets, and restaurants, and to people panic buying fuel at petrol stations.
During a session of First Ministers Questions in the Senedd, Drakeford also accused the UK Government of a “derisory attempt to solve a problem” of its “own creation” after it U-turned on introducing visas for overseas workers.
This will allow 5,000 more foreign HGV drivers into the country until Christmas Eve.
But the First Minister argued that the plans “isn’t going to work” and said the “arrogance of it is breathtaking”, in response to the move.
He said drivers from the continent aren’t going to “uproot themselves” only to be” discarded again”.
Laura Anne Jones MS said: “But it is glaringly apparent at the moment that there is a skills shortage in Islwyn, and across our country, including the problems we’re all currently experiencing, compounded by the fact there’s a lack of skilled lorry drivers. How is this Government looking to address this, First Minister?”
The First Minister responded: “I was a little bit taken aback by what I thought the Member said in the final part of her question. Here is a UK Government – it is hard to imagine a Government that has made a more derisory attempt to solve a problem of their own creation.
“Of course we are short of HGV drivers, because your Government took us out of the European Union, where we were previously supplied by drivers—[Interruption.]
“I know it suits Members of the Conservative Party to cover the lack of their arguments just by making a noise, but it honestly doesn’t wash.
“When we were in a single market and the customs union, people were able to move freely across the continent of Europe and to do jobs here in this country.
“Those people are no longer available to us. The idea that people are going to be willing to uproot themselves and come back and work in this country for a matter of weeks, only to be told by the UK Government they will be discarded again on Christmas eve, when they no longer have any use for them, it simply—. Well, the arrogance of it is breathtaking, but it just isn’t going to work.