Boris Johnson promises change as UK faces food, fuel shortages
Boris Johnson is the Prime Minister and he visited Manchester’s Network Rail Queens Road Compound, October 4, 2021.
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LONDON — U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to promise changes to the direction that the U.K. economy is traveling in, outlining plans on Wednesday for the country to become a “high wage, high skill, high productivity economy.”
Johnson, who will be speaking at the Conservative Party’s annual convention later Wednesday afternoon, is likely to inform delegates that Johnson “deals with the most fundamental issues of our society and economy” and is available to solve “problems that no previous government has the nerve to deal with.”
Johnson is facing difficult times as fuel supplies have been cut in recent weeks in Britain and food shortages are looming. Johnson made the speech at this critical time.
Shortages are mainly due to a lack of heavy goods vehicle drivers and overseas workers — with the shortfalls largely exacerbated by the Covid pandemic and Brexit, but also due to other factors such as low pay and working conditions.
Britain is experiencing fuel shortages at stations because of a shortage of tanker drivers. Farmers are warning that tons more food could be wasted and that thousands of animals might have to die due to a shortage of workers in the abattoir or farm to process it.
Britain’s dependence on foreign seasonal workers has been highlighted by the labour shortage.
Learn more Britain deploys its army to deliver fuel as panic buying and shortages continue
For his part, Johnson — a politician often accused by his critics of loving a soundbite but lacking an eye for detail and planning — has been accused of not recognizing the seriousness of the situation.
Andrew Marr was asked Sunday by Johnson by BBC about the problems facing the pig farmer. Johnson claimed that there are over 100,000 pigs who could be forced to die and some of the meat will have to be donated to feed the hungry. It is important that your viewers understand this.
He said that the “great hecatombing of pigs” you described hasn’t yet occurred. Let’s wait and see.
Prime Minister and officials from the government tried to downplay the U.K.’s labour shortages. They insist that the supply chain is under pressure around the globe due to Covid. They also suggested that short-term visas could be offered to truck drivers in order to address labor shortages.
However, it has refused to allow more immigration to alleviate labor shortages. Instead, the government is telling British businesses to invest in British workers.
For their part, many British businesses have said they find it hard to attract British workers, particularly in certain sectors where they lack the right skills, demand higher wages and are unwilling to accept tougher working conditions — on farms or in abattoirs for example.
Johnson’s tenure as president has been heavily dominated by the pandemic. Johnson is eager to focus the government’s attention on the economy. This will be especially true now that the U.K. and EU relationship changes are being made, including the shortage of foreign workers.
According to party prereleased comments, the government seems determined to continue with its plans to reskill British workers. Johnson will say Wednesday that they aren’t going back to “the same old broken model with high wages, low growth and low skill and low productivity all enabled and supported by uncontrolled immigration.”
“The solution is to manage immigration to allow talent to enter this country, but not to make immigration an excuse for failing to invest or train people in their abilities and the machinery that they will need to do their job,” he’ll say.
A major irony in Brexit, whose advocates claimed that leaving the EU would decrease Britain’s economic dependency on regional labor forces and produce, is that labor shortages could result in more EU imports. Industry leaders claim this. Some industry leaders are warning of possible food shortages during Christmas due to disruptions in supply chains and labor problems.
Sky News spoke to Nick Allen, the chief executive officer of British Meat Processors Association. He said that Turkeys would likely need to be imported from Europe for the holiday season and that many beloved foods like “pigs in blankets”, small sausages covered in bacon, may not be possible.
I suspect food can be imported. Although the turkeys may not be British, they could end up being French or turkeys from other countries. Although we aren’t saying that there’ll be severe food shortages, it is certain there won’t be many options for British cuisine. he said on Monday.
Johnson’s conference address comes amid criticism of the government’s tackling of inequality in the U.K., and his speech takes place on the same day that the government is ending a £20 ($27) uplift to the Universal Credit benefit payment, introduced during the pandemic, that helped many hard-hit families to make ends meet.
Johnson has not indicated that he will respond to criticisms of the benefit reduction, but his speech is expected to make more proposals for uniting and “leveling up” the U.K. which was historically divided into the North and South with London being the center of wealth.
Johnson expects to state that Johnson believes Johnson has the right to assert, “There’s no reason why people in one area of the nation should be fated to live poorer than those elsewhere.”