BoJo Says ‘Not Government’s Job to Fix All of UK’s Problems,' Told by BBC Journo to ‘Stop Talking’
17:39 GMT 05.10.2021 (Updated: 13:36 GMT 06.08.2022)
© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLEBritain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gestures as he speaks during a news conference with Britain's Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak and Britain's Health Secretary Sajid Javid (not pictured) in Downing Street, in London, Britain, September 7, 2021
© REUTERS / TOBY MELVILLE
Britons are facing a perfect storm of an economic crisis caused by a dramatic spike in utilities rates, the lingering impact of Covid, a shortage of fuel for motorists at the pumps, and the prospect of food shortages running through the holiday season thanks to disruptions caused by an insufficient number of drivers for heavy goods vehicles.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shocked some of his constituents after denying that the UK was in the depths of a major crisis and saying that it wasn’t his government’s job to fix all of the nation’s ills.
“It’s not the job of government to come in and try and fix every problem in business and industry. We have fantastic supply chains in this country, we have fantastic supply chains, fantastic logistics. There is a problem of demand as I explained to you,” Johnson said in a testy interview with GB News on Tuesday.
The prime minister blamed the country’s shortage of heavy good vehicle (HGV) drivers on a culture of low wages and poor working conditions in the industry, and stressed that it was up to employers to improve conditions in the sector.
In a separate interview with the BBC Radio 4, BoJo offered a different explanation for problems with the country’s supply chains, suggesting that they are a sign of an economic upturn.
“The supply chain problem is caused very largely by the strength of the economic recovery. What you will see is brilliant logistic experts in our supermarket chains, in our food processing industry, getting to grips with it, finding the staff that they need, we will help them in any way that we can,” the prime minister said.
The PM went on to blame a “global shortage” of qualified drivers for the supply problems facing the food and fuel industries, saying businesses have provided the government with just 127 names to fill the 5,000 work visas promised by No.10 to try and patch the driver shortage. The Department of Transport clarified that the 127 visas granted included 27 for tanker truck drivers and 100 for food cargo haulers.
Johnson’s interview with Radio 4 included a surly exchange with presenter Nick Robinson, who asked the prime minister to “stop talking” after he repeated over and over again his position on lorry driver shortage issue.
“Prime Minister, stop talking. We are gonna have questions and answers, not where you merely talk if you wouldn’t mind,” Robinson asked. An offended Johnson quipped toward the end of the interview that he thought it was “very kind of you to let me talk, I thought that was the point of inviting me on your show, but anyway, lovely to see you.”
During Tuesday’s media blitz, the prime minister also assured Britons that he was not worried by the prospect of inflation eating away at their savings, suggesting that “people have been worried about inflation for a long time and it hasn’t materialised.” Pressed on the matter, Johnson offered a somewhat nonsensical, incomplete sentence of a response, saying “that supply will be encouraged, and we want to encourage people to invest in.”
He also addressed the motor fuel shortages, stressing that “this has overwhelmingly been a problem of demand, not supply.” The response was consistent with his other comments in recent days by Johnson and other government officials blaming panic buying by the public for the ongoing shortages at the pumps.
2 October 2021, 14:30 GMT
Pressed on the recent spike in utility bills affecting millions of Britons due to rising natural gas prices across the continent and the bankruptcy up of over a dozen smaller energy resellers, Johnson promised that the government would “fix” the problem over the long term “by making investments in renewable power that we can rely on in this country.”
On Monday, Johnson told businesses that it would be up to them to prevent potential food shortages at Christmas, and insisted that the holidays this year would still be better than last year, when many parts of the country faced tough Covid-related lockdowns.
Johnson’s media interviews come against the background of the ongoing Conservative Party conference in Manchester.
3 October 2021, 15:18 GMT