St Albans MP Daisy Cooper condemns government for fuel crisis

Petrol pumps have run dry after days of panic buying.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is said to be considering whether to call in the army to deliver fuel to petrol stations after pumps ran dry after days of panic buying. - Credit: AP Photo/Jon Super

As queues of cars continue to snake away from petrol stations across the district, St Albans MP Daisy Cooper has condemned the government for its failure to tackle the HGV driver shortage.

Neighbouring MP and transport secretary, Welwyn Hatfield's Grant Shapps, has blamed the fuel crisis on motorists and hauliers, despite his own government admitting to a shortage of lorry drivers.

Daisy Cooper has hit back at Whitehall's response to the ongoing situation: “People in St Albans are angry and frustrated at this latest national crisis, which has left many people - including health and social care staff, key workers and people with vulnerable family members - anxiously scouting the area to find fuel for their cars.  

"The government has known about this issue for weeks but has done nothing except stick its head in the sand.

"Three weeks ago, as soon as Parliament returned from the summer recess, I called on the government to establish an industry-wide support scheme to urgently increase the rate of driver training and recruitment, to compensate small and medium-sized haulage firms for the costs involved with border checks and delays with our EU neighbours and to add HGV drivers to the UK Shortage Occupation list to attract overseas labour to the UK.

"That same day, I also asked the transport secretary Grant Shapps whether he would grant urgent visas for HGV drivers - something which industry bosses had been calling for all summer. 

“But despite numerous prompts from myself, other MPs and from industry, government ministers refused to listen, denied there was a problem, and now has the cheek to blame the public and industry for its own shameful failure to plan. 

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"Industry bosses are clear that Brexit has triggered a desperate shortage of lorry drivers, and that this has been made worse by the government's catastrophic handling of COVID and the numerous lockdowns, as well as the government's incompetence and plain failure to plan ahead.

"Industry is now also warning that the government's decision to offer temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers is simply too little, too late. 

"The government must do whatever it takes to tackle the lorry driver shortage, whether that's encouraging former drivers to return, recruiting qualified drivers from abroad, increasing tests for new drivers, or even plugging the gap with any qualified army drivers if necessary. In short, the government must get a grip before the situation gets any worse."