PRIME Minister Boris Johnson yesterday refused to rebut his Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s warning in Saturday’s Daily Mail newspaper that ‘very real shortages’ can be expected to carry on until Christmas.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Johnson was asked if Sunak was right in predicting that the fuel and lorry driver shortage crisis would go on until Christmas.
In reply, Johnson blamed the public for the fuel crisis, claiming that petrol shortages are ‘very largely driven by demand’.
Johnson claimed a ‘fiscal meteorite’ had hit the British economy in the form of Covid-19.
He refused to rule out raising taxes again, less than one month after announcing a massive one-and-a-half per cent National Insurance hike for low paid workers and just three weeks before Sunak delivers his Budget.
He said that from today, 200 British Army soldiers are being drafted in to provide ‘temporary’ support to ease pressure on service stations and claimed the lack of lorry drivers is ‘a worldwide issue, with the United States, China and other countries in Europe seeing similar problems’.
Marr accused Johnson of ‘heading towards bluster’ and went on: ‘Let me ask you a direct question. When were you first warned about the HGV driver crisis?’
Johnson replied: ‘There have been shortages of HGV drivers for a very long time and it’s a chronic problem and it’s particularly acute in the UK because of the reasons I went into in some detail just now.’
Marr intervened: ‘Okay, you’re not going to tell me, so I’m going to tell you. The Road Haulage Association wrote to you personally on June 23rd saying there is a big crisis building up and you didn’t answer, you didn’t respond to it at all.’
Marr went on: ‘Another part of the industry is warning right now that 120,000 pigs are going to have to be killed and incinerated if there is no answer to the shortage of abattoir and butchery workers in the next 10 days.
‘That would be the single biggest cull of healthy animals ever to happen in the history of British agriculture.’
- Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, said yesterday morning: ‘While more fuel is being delivered to forecourts than is being sold overall, the situation remains critical in London and the South East where many filling stations remain dry.’
- The British Meat Processors Association (BMPA), says some farmers are ‘quietly starting to cull’.
One Yorkshire farmer has killed hundreds of piglets because labour shortages in local abattoirs mean adult pigs are not being killed fast enough. He had been ‘destroyed by it’, a friend said. ‘He had to kill perfectly healthy, viable piglets.’
The National Pig Association (NPA) said the killing and incinerating of healthy livestock is just beginning, as mature pigs continue to ‘back up’ on farms.