Boris Johnson says Rishi Sunak is right, shortages could last ‘until Christmas’ - but fuel crisis ‘is abating’

Boris Johnson appeared on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show in Salford ahead of Conservative Party conference

The prime minister has confirmed that shortages could last “until Christmas” and the government has been aware of the issues causing the crisis “for a very long time”.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr Show, Boris Johnson said that the chancellor was right when he said earlier this week that issues with fuel and other shortages could continue for several months.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • Asked by Andrew Marr whether Rishi Sunak was right to say that the current shortages - which the chancellor described as “very real” - will continue until Christmas, Johnson agreed 
  • Johnson argued that the HGV driver shortage which is driving the issues is the product of poor investment by the road haulage industry, which instead relied on “very hard working people” from the rest of Europe
  • Asked about a letter from the Road Haulage Association back in June warning of a “big crisis” building up which the government failed to answer, Johnson said he has been aware of the issue since “long before then”
  • The prime minister said that the government will bring on newly trained British HGV drivers “as fast as we possibly can”
  • In an interview with the Daily Mail Rishi Sunak said the current shortages could last for months and the government will do it all it can to prevent the current issues impacting Christmas, but that he could make no guarantees

What’s been said?

Asked about the chancellor’s comments “Rishi is right, invariably, but what you’re seeing depends on how you interpret what he said.”

“What you’re certainly seeing is the stresses and strains in a UK economy which is now the fastest growing in the G7 with two million less unemployed than predicted.”

Asked how long until newly trained British HGV drivers will be ready to help ease the supply crisis, Johnson said “we’ve got to make sure people come on stream as fast as we possibly can.

He added: “The issue at forecourts is fundamentally one of supply.

“What we had for decades was a system whereby the road haulage industry - which is a great industry full of fantastic people - was not investing in truck stops, not improving conditions, not improving pay, and we relied on very hard working people who were willing to come in largely from European countries to do that work under those conditions.

“That is why that job with that pay and those conditions is not currently attractive. What you need to do is make sure that people now invest in basic equipment such as truck stops, and better pay.”

Asked when he was first warned about the crisis, Johnson said there have been shortages “for a very long time”.

He said: “We’ve known about shortage in road haulage long before then, they’ve been a chronic feature of the way in which the road haulage industry works.

He added: Although I accept people’s irritation and frustration, [the fuel supply crisis] is abating.”