Emergency Visa scheme in FULL: Inside Boris’s plan to save Christmas and end fuel crisis

Brit stuck in two-hour queue for supermarket due to petrol chaos

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Petrol stations and supermarkets across the UK continue to face significant obstacles in filling their supplies for customers. Over the last week, people have had to go without, as Brexit, the pandemic and panic buying bite at the supply chain. With no end in sight and Christmas hanging in the balance, the onus is on the Prime Minister and his cabinet to find a solution.

Ministers, becoming increasingly desperate, have decided to offer EU-based drivers temporary visas.

These would provide HGV drivers – thousands of whom left the UK after Brexit – with the means to stay in the country while they deliver supplies from the bloc.

Initially, ministers designed the emergency visa scheme to expire on Christmas Eve.

Drivers taking up the offer would have had to leave by December 24, but they have since renegotiated the proposal.

Now, the visas will grant up to 300 drivers immediate permission to stay in the UK until at least March.

A further 4,700 will arrive in October for a shorter spell, staying until February.

Those arriving in the UK won’t meet the same barriers their colleagues have recently.

A Cabinet Office release said hauliers would track down prospective drivers and take their applications.

These would then go to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

The department will “endorse applicants with a necessary license” and contract to conduct their business as a fuel driver in the UK.

Anyone who chooses to take up the opportunity will work alongside army recruits.

The Government announced yesterday that it would enlist nearly 200 military personnel to help free up the supply chain.

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Of those enlisted, 100 will take to the streets as temporary HGV drivers to relieve pressure on petrol stations.

They will start work on Monday after training at haulier sites.

While these approaches will add to HGV driver ranks, some Government plans in this area have not borne fruit.

One dimension of the Government’s proposed visa scheme involved efforts to tempt ex-HGV drivers back behind the wheel.

The Department for Transport sent out a mass letter to one million people with lorry driving licenses last week.

Ambulance drivers were among them, as were some German nationals living in the UK who have never driven heavy vehicles.

German driving licenses issued before 1999 come with a permit to drive small to medium size trucks up to 7.5 tonnes.

Those who exchanged their licenses for one issued by the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) will have had this element included in its UK-wide database, meaning they received the letter.

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