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Boris Johnson indicated on Sunday that he would resist business pressure for more temporary visas for foreign workers to alleviate the widespread disruption of the UK in the UK.
The Prime Minister warned that Britain would undergo an ‘adjustment period’ after Brexit and the termination of the EU’s free movement arrangements in the EU, as he said the industry was best placed to solve supply chain problems, rather than the government.
Johnson said at the start of the Conservative party conference that ministers would not reach “the leverage called uncontrolled immigration” to address the shortage of heavy vehicle drivers that led to gaps in supermarket shelves and panic over buying petrol .
Ministers are ready for more disruption in the run-up to Christmas, and Johnson said Chancellor Rishi Sunak rightly said on Saturday that the issues could ‘last for months’, but added that the government was not changing course.
“When people vote for change in 2016 and when people vote for change in 2019, they are voting for the end of a broken model of the British economy that relies on low wages and low skills and chronic low productivity,” he told the BBC. . “We moved away from it.”
The government said on Saturday that it would immediately allow 300 foreign drivers in Britain to help with fuel supplies after many garages ran out of petrol.
A further 4,700 foreign drivers are destined to come to the UK to transport food in the run-up to Christmas.
Business groups claim that the government’s plans for temporary visas for foreign workers, which also include 5,500 for the food processing industry, are inadequate.
Johnson said the government was in a ‘controlled way’ to make sure the UK had the ‘additional managers where needed’.
He added that ministers ‘keep all options on the table’ to rectify the supply chain disruption, saying the government will support industries experiencing problems.
“But it’s basically up to them to work out the way forward,” Johnson said. “Ultimately, the businesses, the industries, are the best solvers of their own supply chain issues: the government cannot step in and fix every part of the supply chain.”
Meanwhile, Johnson refused to rule out further tax increases to correct public finances after the coronavirus crisis, which he described as a “fiscal meteorite”.
The prime minister last month announced an increase in National Insurance contributions to fund the NHS and social care, which would bring Britain’s tax burden to its highest level since 1950.
‘If I can possibly avoid it, I do not want to raise taxes again. . . “You have no stronger and more zealous opponent of unnecessary tax increases than I do, but we have encountered a pandemic on a scale that this country has never seen in our lives and long before,” Johnson said.
The prime ministers of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland wrote to Johnson on Sunday urging him to reverse the government’s decision to end a £ 20 a week increase to the universal credit welfare benefit this month.
Despite some Conservative MPs’ concerns about a cost-of-living crisis, Johnson has previously said the government will not change course as the £ 20 lifting is a temporary response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Johnson also said he would reform the criminal justice system after Wayne Couzens, metropolitan police officer, was convicted of murdering Sarah Everard.
The case has heightened concerns about the safety of women, drawn attention to convictions for rape and threatened to undermine public confidence in the police.
“We will do nothing to make sure we get more rapists behind bars and that we have more successful prosecutions for rape and sexual violence,” Johnson said.