Brexit 'not to blame' for supply crisis says Andrew Bridgen
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Klaus-Dieter Frankenberger, politics editor at German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, has discussed the sight of empty supermarket shelves, dry petrol pumps and a shortage of lorry drivers in the UK. Mr Frankenberger added the deployment of soldiers to deliver fuel was “further proof” of the importance of being a member of the EU single market.
The newspaper chief claimed the consequences would now be felt by those who listened to the “Brexit propaganda” as well as Britons who voted to remain in the European Union during the 2016 referendum.
He wrote: “Fuel is running out, supermarket shelves are empty. This is not how the Brexit voters imagined life outside the EU.
“During the Brexit campaign, prominent supporters of the UK’s exit from the EU – the most prominent is now Prime Minister – stood out by attributing a fairytale effect to this move. Possible negative consequences were downplayed.”
Mr Frankenberger added: “Now they, and not just the Northern Irish in particular, as has been the case so far, are experiencing that the exit has a price: gas stations are running out of gas, shelves in supermarkets are empty.
“Why is that? In large part because there are no foreign drivers, because they left the country or had to leave the country after Brexit.
“Now the Government even wants to use soldiers as drivers. That is something of an emergency measure and is further proof that it makes a big difference whether you belong to the single market or not.”
The UK finally left the EU single market and customs union at the beginning of January.
Mr Frankenberger claimed these current issues vindicated the decision by former Prime Minister Theresa May to push for continued membership of the EU’s largest trading bloc – before she was ultimately swayed by backbench eurosceptics.
He added: “That was also the reason why the then Prime Minister May was open to continued membership in the big market during the exit negotiations.
“As is well known, this failed due to the resistance of the Brexiteers, whose victim she then became. But the bill is paid by the citizens: those who fell for the Brexit propaganda as well as those who voted against the exit.
“So they are united when waiting in line for a few litres of gasoline and when inspecting empty shelves in supermarkets.”
In his attack, the German commentator refused to acknowledge the UK and most of the world is still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
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The Covid crisis has strained supply chains around the world and in turn affected the availability of some goods and services in Britain.
Many lorry drivers returned to their home nations during the pandemic and some have faced difficulties in returning due to ongoing travel restrictions.
The pandemic also accelerated existing problems in the industry, mainly the average haulier being in their mid-50s and a lack of younger recruits.
The UK Government has since increased the availability of HGV tests and announced plans for 5,000 short-term visas for overseas workers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously said Poland, which has roughly half the population of the UK, has a shortage of 123,000 HGV drivers.
Despite several setbacks, the UK economy continues to recover faster than experts had forecast.
The UK economy surged in the second quarter of 2021 as lockdowns were lifted, according to official figures.
The Office for National Statistics said gross domestic product (GDP) increased by 5.5 percent between April and June after being revised up from the initial estimation of 4.8 percent.
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