British prime minister on Tuesday said there was no crisis in the UK and linked the recent problems seen in petrol and food logistics to the revival of the economy.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Boris Johnson called the situation “a giant waking up.”
“Imagine the UK has been in deep freeze and the pipes are unfreezing right now – stresses and strain of the economy waking up,” he said.
Johnson revealed that only 127 foreign drivers applied for the newly introduced temporary visa for the haulage industry and said: “What that shows is the global shortage.”
He said a difficult winter of the petrol crisis, empty supermarket shelves and rising energy prices were symptoms of the country’s economic path, which is trying to overcome lack of productivity, low wages, lack of investment in energy and infrastructure.
“This government is doing the difficult, long-term things,” Johnson said.
“We got Brexit done, which was a very difficult thing to do, and we are now going to address the big underlying issues that face the UK,” he added.
Johnson said the problem was partially caused by businesses as they had been able to “mainline low-wage, low-cost immigration for a very long time.”
“I think actually this country’s natural ability to sort out its logistics and supply chains is very strong. But what we won’t do is pull the lever marked ‘uncontrolled immigration’.”
Johnson’s remarks came as the country has suffered a petrol crisis for nearly two weeks.
A lack of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers caused some retailers to temporarily close some of their petrol stations, but the public reacted with queuing up for petrol in a panic buy fashion, causing actual fuel shortages at pumps.
A shortage of HGV drivers which is estimated at around 100,000 has negatively affected the economy as supermarkets open their doors to customers with empty shelves more often.
Remarks on misogyny
Also responding to recent calls to make misogyny a hate crime, Johnson said he did not believe that it would be the right response to the murder of Sarah Everard.
He said people’s anger was about how existing laws were so poorly enforced.
“To be perfectly honest, if you widen the scope of what you ask the police to do, you will just increase the problem,” he said.
“What you need to do is get the police to focus on the very real crimes, the very real feeling of injustice and betrayal that many people feel.”
Johnson said recruiting more female officers would help change the culture in police forces.
“In the Met … you are now running at 40%. That is a good thing. I want to see those officers progress up the ranks and attain senior positions and change the culture,” he said.
Wayne Couzens, a Metropolitan police officer, was sentenced last week to life in prison with a “whole life order” for the kidnapping, rape and murder of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, a murder that sent shockwaves across British public.