London, Oct 5 (EFE).- British companies must adapt to the post-Brexit reality and strive to boost domestic labor instead of relying on foreigners, the United Kingdom prime minister Boris Jonhson said Tuesday.
Speaking to broadcasters during the Conservative Party’s annual congress in Manchester, Johnson called the current shortages in the UK “a giant waking up” after the pandemic but denied a labor or supply crisis in the country.
“What you’re seeing with the UK economy, and indeed the global economy, is very largely in the supply chains, the stresses and strains that you’d expect from a giant waking up, and that’s what’s happening,” he said.
The head of government added the UK is at a “turning point” to leave behind a system that depends on cheap, low-skilled foreign labor for an economy that favors high-skilled workers with higher wages.
“What you can’t do is go back to the old, failed model where you mainline low-wage, low-skilled labour – very often very hard-working, brave, wonderful people – who come in, working in conditions that frankly are pretty tough, and we shouldn’t be going back to that,” he said.
The Conservative PM’s remarks come in the midst of a national fuel crisis caused by a shortage of truck drivers exacerbated by Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic.
To ease the shortage, the government announced it would offer 5,000 temporary visas for truck drivers.
Johnson said the government has only received 127 applications for haulier visas, which he said proved the shortage was global and not national.
The UK’s current driver shortage of around 100,000 workers has contributed to the supply shortages in the country’s grocery stores and its fuel pumps but the Conservatives insisted that Brexit was not the cause.
The government has also offered 5,500 temporary visas to poultry workers after the food sector warned of a national shortage on supermarket shelves ahead of the Christmas season.