UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted on Sunday, with some reluctance, that the fuel shortage could last until Christmas, but reiterated that he would not resort to runaway immigration to solve it.
In an interview with BBC television network, Johnson was defensive of questions from one of the public broadcaster’s most inquisitive interviewers, Andrew Marr, and tried to escape unscathed on the day the Conservative Party opened its annual congress in Manchester.
The Secretary of State for Finance, Rishi Sunak, did not rule out the possibility that the supply crisis could extend until Christmas. Asked about it, the prime minister nodded. “Rishi is always right in what he says,” he replied.
For Johnson, the problems facing the British economy, which threaten to overshadow Congress, are due to the period of adjustment in the labor market after Brexit and the rapid recovery after the UK left the European Union.
“What we are seeing are the pressures and tensions being experienced by an economy that is the fastest growing in the G7 countries,” Johnson argued repeatedly, in order to minimize crises in various sectors.
lack of labor
The shortage has been particularly felt in recent days at gas stations across the country, which are not getting fuel due to a lack of truck drivers, but there are also beginning to be food shortages in supermarkets.
The lack of labor that previously came from other EU countries is also causing concern among livestock farmers, who may be forced to slaughter tens of thousands of animals because of the shortage of workers at the slaughterhouses.
Johnson defended his country’s exit from the EU as a way, precisely, of not having to use low-paid workers and thus forcing companies to pay their employees better.
“The way forward is not to pull the lever of uncontrolled immigration and let in large numbers of people,” Johnson said, referring to the tough restrictions in place for EU citizens to obtain a work visa in the UK.
“For decades we have counted on working people coming mainly from EU enlargement countries, who were willing to do these jobs for low wages and so are now unattractive,” added the head of government.
The prime minister insisted that the specific problem with gas stations was due to increased demand due to what he called the “traction effect” caused by the shortage of fuel among drivers. He also recalled that the lack of truck drivers affects other countries, such as the United States, China and Poland.
Negative of new tax hike
Johnson also had to answer for his decision to suspend social security contributions to fund public health, something he had completely ruled out in his election manifesto.
He argued that he had to face a pandemic – “a fiscal meteorite” as he defined it – that forced the state to make an unprecedented effort to allocate £407 billion and was therefore “forced” to take action he did not want. .
“I don’t want to raise more taxes,” Johnson guaranteed, without ruling out the possibility of doing so if the state’s coffers needed to cover the huge debt accumulated due to the health crisis. “There is no greater opponent of unnecessary taxes than I am, but we had to deal with a pandemic,” he added.
The prime minister also defended the fact that wages are rising at an unprecedented rate, something the interviewer also questioned when he recalled that the Office of National Statistics warned that in the last quarter inflation grew more than wages, resulting in a loss. of purchasing power.