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'Winter of Discontent' looms as Tory failures endanger Christmas, food supplies and small businesses

September 9, 2021 10:13 AM
Originally published by Newcastle upon Tyne Liberal Democrats

Christine Jardine MP (Liberal Democrats)Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for the Treasury Christine Jardine MP has spoken of her fears arising from the series of crises that are erupting under the Conservative Government,

"The Government has spent months lurching from crisis to crisis, and the consequences will be felt by normal families as we head towards Christmas," she said.

"From driver shortages to the lack of food on shelves, to huge backlogs in our NHS and courts, it is clear Boris Johnson is steering us towards another Winter of Discontent.

"His Government is wilfully exacerbating the problem by pulling away furlough and taking away the Universal Credit uplift, which will hit the worst off in society hardest.

"Small businesses are laden with debt they took on to survive the crisis, but may be extremely hard pressed to repay it. Further closures and job losses in the retail sector look inevitable.

"This all comes amid rising Covid cases as children return to schools. History tells us this dithering, incompetent Government will fail to get a grip of the situation once again.

She added: "In the short term, Prime Minister Johnson should retire in favour of someone more competent, and in the medium term the country must throw out the Tories."

The Liberal Democrats are also calling on the Government to send in the Army to deliver food to supermarkets, as immigration chaos fuels a growing shortage of lorry drivers.

The country has endured a summer of shortage chaos with empty supermarket shelves, restaurant food shortages, and even delays to flu jabs.

The call from the Liberal Democrats comes as the Road Haulage Association warns of a shortage of 100,000 HGV drivers and the CBI have recently said there could be up to 2 years of labour shortages.

The Liberal Democrats have slammed the Government's new immigration system, implemented in the middle of the Covid pandemic, which makes it impossible for employers to recruit lorry drivers, care workers and other key workers from overseas.

Recent Home Office data shows that 20,000 fewer work visas were issued in the last 12 months than in 2019, even before accounting for the 50,000 EU citizens who came to take up a job offer in the UK under free movement.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics also show a dramatic rise in worker shortages with the number of unfilled vacancies in the transport and storage sector having almost tripled from 13,000 to 38,000 in the past year.

Alistair Carmichael ()Liberal Democrats' Home Affairs Spokesperson Alistair Carmichael MP said:

"The Government is ignoring a crisis happening across the country. If they don't act now we could be in for a Christmas of chaos; with empty shop shelves and restaurant supplies, no toys for our children, and even a delay to life saving flu jabs.

"We're at the point now where we need to mobilise the Army to get food onto our supermarket shelves, showing that the Government has failed and left us all facing a bitter winter of discontent.

"This is all down to Priti Patel's disastrous new immigration rules that are harming Britain. She must listen to British businesses, rather than hinder them, and enable them to hire the lorry drivers and other workers we so desperately need.

"Just tweaking the Shortage Occupation List is not enough. The Home Secretary should scrap her arbitrary salary threshold and end her ludicrous system that brands key workers as 'unskilled'.

"It's time for Priti Patel and the Conservatives to put the needs of the British economy above their anti-immigration ideology."