Andrew Bridgen claims there are driver shortages across Europe
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Andrew Bridgen appeared on Good Morning Britain where he argued against Brexit being responsible for the HGV driver shortages in the UK. He was joined by Anna Soubry who noted the UK did not experience empty shelves and petrol stations when the country was part of the UK but Mr Bridgen attacked her point. He explain the driver shortage was being experienced across Europe and could not comprehend how 5,000 temporary visas aimed to plug the gap would solve anything when there are no drivers anywhere.
Speaking on Good Morning Britain, Ms Soubry said when the UK was a member of the EU there were no shortages of drivers nor were there empty shelves.
But Mr Bridgen was not swayed and said the issue was being experienced in Europe.
He told the programme: “It’s an endemic problem across Europe.
“In Poland, we used to get a lot of our drivers from Poland, there are 120,000 vacancies [there] and that’s more than the UK…
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“I’m not sure what this 5,000 visas are going to do when Europe itself is short of drivers.
“It’s a bit for me like an alcoholic nipping back to the bar for one more drink, it’s really not going to work.”
Mr Bridgen claimed there was no shortages of drivers in the UK but instead the working conditions have put off many people from joining or staying in the sector.
The Government has announced temporary visas will be granted to European workers to fill the gaps in the HGV and poultry sector until December.
Around 5,000 visas will be awarded for the next three months but some are saying it is not enough.
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The Road Haulage Association (RHA) says over 100,000 more HGV drivers are needed in the UK to meet demand.
The RHA say around 20,000 drivers left the UK because of “Brexit reasons” with many more Britons also leaving the sector.
A combination of the pandemic, testing backlogs and changes in labour have also been blamed for the shortfall.
Mr Bridgen quoted the RHA who found the average age of an HGV driver is 55 with less than 1 percent under the age of 25.
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As a result, around 2,000 drivers are leaving the industry every week mainly due to retirement.
Only 1,000 recruits are employed over the same time period causing a decrease in labour.
Research from Transport Intelligence found Germany was short between 45,000 and 60,000 HGV drivers last year.
The International Road Transport Union warns this could increase to 185,000 by 2027.
Emergency plans from the Government include dispatching the army to help with deliveries and to monitor petrol stations across the country.
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