- Britain faces post-Brexit growth difficulties
- Will not pull the lever of uncontrolled immigration
- Hopes to avoid raising taxes again
MANCHESTER, England, October 3 (Reuters) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Sunday he would not return to “runaway immigration” to solve the Christmas fuel, gas and food crises, suggesting that such tensions were part of a post-Brexit adjustment period.
At the start of his Conservative Party’s conference, Johnson was again forced to defend his government against complaints from those who could not get gasoline for their cars, with retailers warning of Christmas shortages and struggling gas companies with soaring wholesale prices.
The British leader wanted to take advantage of the conference to turn the page on more than 18 months of COVID-19 and refocus on his 2019 election promises to fight regional inequalities, crime and social protection.
Instead, the PM finds himself on the sidelines nine months after Britain completed its exit from the European Union – a departure, he said, would give the country the freedom to better shape its economy.
“The way forward for our country is not to simply pull on the great lever marked by uncontrolled immigration, and allow a large number of people to work… So what I will not do is come back. to the failed old model of low wages, low skills backed by unchecked immigration, ”he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show.
“When people voted for change in 2016 and … again in 2019 as they did, they voted to end a broken model of the UK economy that was based on low wages, low skills and chronic low productivity, and we drift away. Starting from.”
He is the closest PM to admit that Britain’s exit from the EU has contributed to tensions in supply chains and the workforce, ranging from fuel deliveries to shortages potential turkeys for Christmas.
“There will be a period of adjustment, but I think that’s what we need to see,” he said.
NO MASS IMMIGRATION
But as the government considers issuing thousands of temporary visas to foreign truck drivers and poultry workers, Johnson has made it clear he will not turn on the immigration taps, shifting responsibility back to businesses to increase wages and attract more workers.
Worker shortages after Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic have wreaked havoc in some sectors of the economy, disrupting fuel and medicine deliveries and leaving more than 100,000 pigs facing slaughter due to a lack of workers in slaughterhouses.
Conservative Party Chairman Oliver Dowden said the government was taking action to hire more truck drivers in general and the government had started training tanker military personnel to start fuel deliveries on Monday.
“We’ll make sure people have their turkeys for Christmas, and I know Environment Secretary George Eustice is absolutely top of his list,” he told Sky News.
But the government’s overwhelming message was that companies must step up efforts to tackle supply chain issues and attract more British workers with higher wages.
“I don’t believe in a command and control economy, so I don’t think the prime minister is responsible for what is in the stores. That’s why we have a free enterprise economy,” the Prime Minister said. Foreign Minister Liz Truss at an event at the conference.
“I am sure the goods will be delivered to our stores.”
But rather than the reset Johnson hoped to chair in Manchester, northern England, the conference is expected to be overshadowed by crises and criticism over the government’s withdrawal of a top-up to a public benefit for low-income households. returned.
The main opposition Labor Party is expected to focus on suppressing the uprising, hoping to undermine Tory lawmakers who have won over its traditional supporters in northern and central England.
Johnson could also be criticized for breaking with the Conservatives’ traditional stance as the low tax party after raising some of them to help the health and social services sectors.
“We don’t want to raise taxes, of course, but what we won’t do is be irresponsible with public finances,” he said. “If I can avoid it, I don’t want to raise taxes again, of course I don’t.”
Additional reporting by Paul Sandle in London, editing by Christina Fincher and Hugh Lawson
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