McDonald’s has run out of milkshakes! Not long ago that story would have raised a chuckle amongst many readers.

The thought of a big food multinational being unable to obtain the supply of one of its iconic products would have been seen as an example of a systems failure for which heads would have rolled.

Yet, other businesses are having the same problems. KFC and Nando’s running out of chicken. Restaurants running out of food. Anybody out and about over the weekend would have noticed the number of pubs with signs saying “Sorry, no food”.

A lot of pubs and restaurants are still asking for people to book tables, not because of any safety concerns but they’re simply afraid of running out of food. Supermarkets can no longer guarantee the same range of products they once had.

So, what’s going on? Quite simply, a lack of HGV drivers to supply the businesses. Estimates vary as to how many drivers short we are but 60,000 is the figure provided by the Road Haulage Association.

Some of those shortages are down to Covid, as people self-isolate after coming into contact with somebody who has tested positive. That situation is easing now with the recent change of rules in Wales and later in England.

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The other, more enduring problem is that drivers from EU countries have simply gone home or are not available anymore.

The reality is that for HGV drivers, and many other sectors such as hospitality, there simply aren’t enough people to go around. Many hospitality businesses are struggling because they just can’t access the staff.

What is the response of the UK Government? Train more British people, which would be all well and good if those people existed. Where on earth do you get 60,000 HGV drivers overnight?

It takes many months to train the drivers even if those people were actually available. The UK Government has toyed with the idea of shortening the training process and extending the hours drivers are able to work.

The solution to the current shortage of drivers is not to send under-qualified or tired drivers onto the road unless the UK Government is willing to compromise road safety.

The answer, certainly in the short term, is to get back the EU drivers that were once available, but this would require the Brexiteers in the UK Government to admit they were wrong about us needing EU workers in our economy.

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Instead, they pursue a policy of only wanting high earners to work in the UK, excluding those such as HGV drivers or care workers for that matter, who contribute so much but aren’t well paid. Only a government filled with people who measure others solely by how much money they have could have come up with such a plan.

The Conservative Party used to be known for its pragmatism. It hated the idea of being hidebound, as it saw it, to ideology. Far better to be flexible to have the greatest appeal. Yet the current Conservative Party has been taken over by people who stick to a rigid ideology and refuse to bend or change even when reality bites.

It may seem a strange comparison but in that sense, these people are similar to the Soviet Communist Party of old. Stick to ideology, ignore inconvenient facts and blame others when those facts are too obvious to be ignored. When all else fails, claim to have the backing of the people.

And so, we have a UK Government that has an inflexible Brexiteer ideology. It doesn’t recognise the employment shortages that we have. When they become obvious they simply blame others for a shortage they’ve caused through their inflexibility. Finally, they will always say this is “what the British people voted for”. I doubt very much that people voted for food shortages when they voted for Brexit.

As the economy expands post-Covid, demand will increase. If the supply chain can’t keep up with that demand, then prices will go up.

Businesses will bid against each other to pay for deliveries and pass those costs on to customers. Those with the deepest pockets will win.

Add to this the escalating price of oil and you have ideal conditions for price increases that will affect the lowest paid worst.

Allowing drivers in from EU countries would help to keep those costs down but for many Brexiteers, a higher cost of living is a price worth paying for “sovereignty”, whatever that is meant to mean.

Successful economies always draw in workers from outside to plug gaps. It’s always happened in the modern era.

Britain has set its face against that and the result will be that the economy will never be able to expand properly, with higher costs being the result.

It’s time for a dose of reality, and the challenge for many of those who promoted Brexit and who told people that problems like these wouldn’t happen is to explain what their plan is, because it isn’t working so far.

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