Boris Johnson says Rishi Sunak is right, shortages could last ‘until Christmas’ - but fuel crisis ‘is abating’

Sunday, 3rd October 2021, 11:58 am
Boris Johnson says Rishi Sunak is right, shortages could last ‘until Christmas’ (Photo by NIKLAS HALLE'N/AFP via Getty Images)

The prime minister has confirmed that shortages could last “until Christmas” and the government has been aware of the issues causing the crisis “for a very long time”.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Boris Johnson said the fuel shortage crisis "is abating" but that broader issues could last for months.

'Rishi is right'

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Asked by Andrew Marr whether Rishi Sunak was right to say that the current shortages - which the chancellor described as “very real” - will continue until Christmas, Johnson agreed.

“What you’re certainly seeing is the stresses and strains in a UK economy which is now the fastest growing in the G7 with two million less unemployed than predicted.”

He added: “The issue at forecourts is fundamentally one of supply.

In an interview with the Daily Mail Rishi Sunak said the current shortages could last for months and the government will do it all it can to prevent the current issues impacting Christmas, but that he could make no guarantees.

Asked about the chancellor’s comments “Rishi is right, invariably, but what you’re seeing depends on how you interpret what he said.”

Johnson argued that the HGV driver shortage which is driving the issues is the product of poor investment by the road haulage industry, which instead relied on “very hard working people” from the rest of Europe.

“What we had for decades was a system whereby the road haulage industry which is a great industry full of fantastic people, was not investing in truck stops, not improving conditions, not improving pay, and we relied on very hard working people who were willing to come in largely from European countries to do that work under those conditions.

“That is why that job with that pay and those conditions is not currently attractive. What you need to do is make sure that people now invest in basic equipment such as truck stops, and better pay.”

Fuel crisis 'is abating'

Asked how long until newly trained British HGV drivers will be ready to help ease the supply crisis, Johnson said “we’ve got to make sure people come on stream as fast as we possibly can".

Of a letter from the Road Haulage Association back in June warning of a “big crisis” building up which the government failed to answer, Johnson said he has been aware of the issue since “long before then”.

He said: “We’ve known about shortage in road haulage long before then, they’ve been a chronic feature of the way in which the road haulage industry works.

He added: “Although I accept people’s irritation and frustration, [the fuel supply crisis] is abating.”