Sir Keir Starmer calls for key workers to get priority access to petrol this week

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Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer talks to the press at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer talks to the press at the Labour Party conference in Brighton (PA Wire)

Sir Keir Starmer has called for key workers to be given priority access to fuel supplies this week to ensure they can get to work as petrol stations run dry.

Speaking at the party conference in Brighton, the Labour leader accused the Government of reducing the country to “chaos” through its failure to deal with the crisis.

He added that the haulage industry was “beyond frustrated” at the lack of a clear plan to alleviate the problems.

“The Government has reduced the country to chaos as we track from crisis to crisis and the Government is not gripping this,” Sir Keir told BBC News.

“I spoke to the haulage sector this morning to the businesses that are absolutely in the middle of this, and they are beyond frustrated and these were their words, they said it’s a Government that is denying there’s a problem, then blaming somebody else, and then coming up with a half-baked plan.

“What I would do is give priority to key workers this week.”

Sir Keir resisted blaming Brexit directly for the shortage of HGV drivers but accepted it was partly a consequence of leaving.

He said there were doubts among industry that the Government’s plan to issue 5,000 three-month visas to foreign HGV drivers to make up for the shortage of truckers would work.

There was a “strong view” that they would need to be for at least six months if they were to make a difference, he said.

“I would issue enough visas for lorry drivers for long enough, he added.

“At the moment there was some talk this morning on the discussion that the pieces may not even begin until November. And we have to take action today.

“The Prime Minister should take that action today, prioritise key workers and start issuing enough visas and for long enough,” he said.

“The strong view this morning was that three months visas won’t work, they’ve got to be six months visas.

“But this problem was predictable and predicted and the Government has absolutely failed to plan.”

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