Julian Jessop was speaking after the issue received wide attention in recent weeks. Among those weighing in was the Labor outspoken himself, who tweeted last week: “The Transport Secretary says he would rather have shortages of truck drivers, and therefore food shortages in stores, rather than allowing more EU truck drivers. Incredible Brexit blinders. “
However, Mr Jessop, a former chief economist and current economics researcher at the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), said attempts to blame the UK’s decision to leave the EU were misleading.
He told Express.co.uk: “There are many reasons for the shortage of truck drivers, with Brexit playing only a small role.
“The main factors are due to Covid, including a sharp drop in the number of driving tests, restrictions on international travel and of course the ‘pingemia’. “
Mr Jessop, who said Brexit had become a ‘scapegoat’, added: ‘The new tax rules known as IR35 have also increased the cost of agency drivers.
“And many other countries, including the rest of Europe, are struggling with a lack of engines as their economies rebound.”
Nevertheless, Mr Jessop acknowledged that the shortage of European workers was one of the main reasons for the staff shortage in the poultry industry.
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He said: “The government should relax the rules to make it easier to recruit this sector from abroad.”
Talk to Express.co.uk Earlier this month, a spokeswoman for the Road Haulage Association made no reference to Brexit.
She said, “Right now we have a shortage of about 100,000 truck drivers.
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“This, in addition to the effects of ‘pingemia’, means supermarket shelves are not full.
“Food distributors and manufacturers are struggling to keep up with demand because the engines to get goods to retailers are just not there. “
Last month, the government temporarily extended the working time rules for drivers from nine to ten hours, allowing them to make longer journeys – but the spokeswoman said that was “not the time.” solution ”.
She explained: “The driving hours regulations were originally established as a safety measure to ensure that drivers have sufficient rest time based on the hours worked.
“Extending the hours just means they’ll be driving longer for the same amount of rest.
“We need long-term measures, not short-term fixes. “
Heavy truck drivers were skilled workers who should be included on the Home Office’s list of skilled worker shortage occupations, the RHA said.
The spokesperson added: “The same drivers who have kept us safe and healthy during the pandemic, ensuring that store shelves remain stocked and vital supplies of PPE and medicine reach workers. frontline workers who need it most.
“So why, as the UK begins to return to ‘normal’, are these drivers being taken for granted again?”