Fuel crisis: Huw Merriman says Brexit is not to blame
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Huw Merriman spoke with Radio 4’s Sarah Smith about the petrol crisis as a blame game has erupted between the Government and the private sector. MPs have been blaming companies for poor working conditions and not addressing the lack of young drivers whereas haulage groups have insisted they have warned the Government about the issue for years and need help. Mr Merriman was one MP who took aim at the private sector but when asked whether Brexit was to blame, he delivered a stern sentence on why the fuel crisis was playing out the way it is.
Shortages of HGV drivers have caused supply chain issues across the country with some shops and petrol garages seeing shortages.
BP was forced to close a small handful of garages which has stimulated the public to go to the pumps and fill up their cars.
Petrol garages are now reporting shortages and are being forced to closes because of the panic buying with some garages seeing a week’s worth of petrol being sold over 24 hours.
Mr Merriman appeared on Radio 4 to give his assessment as the Government puts the army on standby to help with the problem.
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He told the station: “I understand the need to focus on what can the Government do, but let’s just remember how the Government doesn’t drive the drivers to the forecourt.
“This is a private industry that for years… through the select committee I’ve been on I remember back in 2016 asking them what they’re going to do to fix their industry.
“Why is it that only one percent of all drivers are women, why is only two percent of all drivers are under 25?
“Why is the average age 55? Let’s hear now from the industry as to what they’re going to do to get their own industry in order rather than just constantly asking the government to step in.”
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Ms Smith interrupted and said while there are issues in the private sector that need to be resolved by them, Brexit was a political decision made by the Government which has had an impact on HGV drivers.
Mr Merriman retorted: “I don’t agree with that and actually I didn’t vote for Brexit so just put my cards on the table.
“The fact is that the Germans themselves are 50,000 HGV drivers short, Poland 125,000…”
Ms Smith butted in again and said European countries were not seeing the same crisis in the UK.
Mr Merriman then summed up the shortages in the country by stating: “We’re not seeing queues because there’s a shortage of fuel in this country…
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“We’re also seeing queues because, let’s be quite honest, you and I are talking about it and that causes people to go out and fill up their tanks.”
Mr Merriman said the issues have gone as far back as 2016 and was fully aware of the issues but laid the blame on the private sector for not improving working conditions.
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.
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