Shortage and expense ahead?

Lorries will inevitably try and find alternative routes to motorways

The hope is that the petrol ‘crisis’ which was created by various causes will have eased by the time this is published. It is a chicken and egg argument, has Brexit (the word hidden under the pandemic by media, newsreaders and politicians) created this situation regarding a lack of lorry drivers, nurses and carers, or is it a political neglect of not looking ahead and having a strategy from 2016 to deal with the difficulties, as the new immigration policy pushed out most of the foreign workers. They were accused of driving down the wages, no, it was the companies who used them and exploited the option and government let it go on.

We have now had 18 months of various lockdowns, many working from home, why are so many HGV licenses not dealt with? This has now increased the shortage of drivers. There were times when some HGV tests could have taken place, but again no strategy to look ahead. I would like to quote here a heartfelt story written by Jim Titheridge on Facebook, a lorry driver for 30 years. The conditions are very little talked about and the class system still prevails in 2021.

“So, you are running out of fuel and supplies. Why is that? Shortages of goods, no, shortage of money, drivers, maybe, but not because there is a shortage of people who can drive but are not willing any more to do so. Why is that? I can’t answer for all drivers but can give reasons why I am not driving any more. My dream was to be the knight on the roads providing a service. What I didn’t take into account was the absolute abuse my profession got over the years and no respect. First, it was the erosion of truck parking and transport cafes, then massive restrictions where to stop, time wait limits in every city and town, You can get there, deliver but can’t stay, no-one wants an empty truck overnight once they have what they want.

“Compare this with France. I can park in every town/village, marked parking bays, nearby there will be a Routier where I can have a meal and shower, locals respect me. Go on the motorway services I can park at no cost, get a shower for little cost and freshly cooked food. I am even able to jump the queues because others know I am on limited time, they respect the job I do. I know that Canterbury has zero truck parking facilities as most villages and towns in this country. Give me a good reason why I or others would want to go back to those conditions. We spend our nights/weeks away from home to service you with wanted/needed goods, surely we deserve access to basic services. It’s not up to the licensed drivers or just increasing wages but a wider issue that will bring the needed 100,000 drivers back. It is up to councils/governments to get building better conditions across the country and for society to respect this difficult job. You could not give me enough money to return as a lorry driver.”

And it isn’t just one problem with lorry drivers, what about the lack of nurses and carers, short in every department. Once Brexit and its immigration policy was voted for, there should have been foresight in planning and action, rather than paying out money for a royal yacht, or contracts given out for a lot of money to cronies like test and trace which didn’t work. We can’t hide all the shortcomings of government and Brexit under the pandemic blanket. And how patronising and egotistic to think that European drivers are just waiting to plug the gaps in England after being told to leave. On top of that, the visas are only until March 31, 2022.

Image Credits: John Minter .


  1. It’s easy to blame this government or, as is the fashion, Brexit. In reality the shortage of HGV drivers is a Euro wide problem (just look at the difficulties Germany is having). It’s not just the UK!

  2. Oh dear. According to those who refuse to accept the democratic decision of the British people to leave the EU BREXIT presages the sky falling. No mention of Covid vaccines, but why mention a positive? No mention of the havoc caused by the PCS union at the DVLA, timed to make the pandemic even worse. (I’ve been waiting eight weeks for an address change on my license, apparently, I might get it for Christmas). As Shaun points out this is a European (actually World Wide) problem. Certainly facilities could be improved. The borders of Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany with miles of parked HGVs are testament to that. Why the UK’s excellent Transport Cafes (best breakfast ever) have not risen to the challenge of providing better facilities is a question for them and the industry, not the government.

  3. The shortage of drivers is in part the consequence of leaving the EU. Many European drivers returned home and new border controls have exacerbated the problem. We know that both agriculture and health care are also acutely affected.

  4. How one must agree with Shaun and Michael, yes the government have a lot to answer for after the Covid pandemic, but it’s time to move on Heidi and the bitterness to end, and maybe if the labour government made themselves electable again,a lot of us may support them again,sadly what we saw at Brighton, the name calling, the bickering, and shouting abuse at Sir kier Starmer, will not bring former Labour voters,back to the fold.

    • John…I don’t think it is bitterness as you say. Perhaps a more accurate term might be anger. I and millions of others are angry that EU citizenship has been taken away, that we have fuel shortages, much higher petrol prices, long, long waits for GP and scans/tests and consultants, an MP who has voted against any legislation to support EU citizens living in the UK, a detachment from the security sharing arrangements we had when we were in the EU, the lies of the Leavers and our current Government about fishing and agriculture (fishermen/women and farmers are decidedly worse off), the nasty treatment of EU nationals, and a decided turn inward for this country. It is appalling and many of us will not be quiet nor “move on”. The current government seeks to scapegoat the EU by blaming them for our own failings and as a pro-EU, UK citizen, the fight goes on. And as for your comments about the Labour Party conference, that’s democracy in action. It’s messy but I’d take it over any other form of government and certainly over the utter incompetence and hubris of the cabinet—the worst in my lifetime. Embarrassing lot they are. [I am not a member of any political party for the record]

  5. This muddled article – peppered with anecdotal and unsubstantiated points pulled off Facebook – rightly sits as an ‘opinion’ piece. However, the responses it has drawn are more problematic to me.

    I have spent most of my adult life listening to vociferous anti-europeans attributing so many difficult national issues to our being part of the EU, albeit that too was decided by a democratic decision at the time. Now they have their way, we are no longer part of the EU and the tables have turned – also as a democratic decision – pro-europeans should just accept everything, ‘move on’ and stay silent forevermore? Total hypocrisy.

  6. Of course, the 1975 Referendum took place when we had already joined, and the ballot paper question related not to “The EU” but to “The European Community (The Common Market)”.

    It is interesting to note how the losing side showed reacted to the result in 1975, in marked contrast to the prolonged complaining following the recent vote. As Tony Benn said at the time : “When the British people speak, everyone…should tremble before their decision and that’s certainly the spirit with which I accept the result of the Referendum”.

  7. I find it interesting that most of the comments to Heidi’s article focus on defending Brexit or claiming that Britain’s problems are the same the world over. In fact the article is clearly about the appalling conditions HGV drivers have to put up with in UK and nothing to do with Brexit or worldwide shortages. So who is actually muddled? Should we not all be supporting the driver who made these comments and asking the government to create civilized conditions for HGV drivers in particular and all working people in general, not to mention a properly enforced minimum wage that allows people to live with dignity.

  8. Sorry but there are no fuel shortages in the EU nor are there shortages of lorry drivers. In the UK this has nothing to do with C-19. It is a fallout from Brexit and to deny this is simply a lie. Heidi accurately points out that conditions for lorry drivers are much better on the continent. This isn’t an opinion, it’s a fact. A French wine merchant whom I have purchased from for a decade no longer ships to the UK. Why? Lorry drivers don’t want to come here. We’ve created a toxic environment for people who live the closest to us. The worst political decision since Chamberlain’s response to Hitler.

  9. Thank you John and Paul for your supportive comments as you both understood the point I was making.
    To the Brexeteer defenders, at no point did I say I didnt accept it or made the article about Brexit . It was a clear factual plea from a lorry driver of what is needed in this country, better conditions which you totally ignored.
    And just to say, I find it ironic that any negative in England there is an immediate comparison to Europe , how bad it is there , without any facts. But when things were going better initially in the EU, concerning covid decisions we were told not to compare. Yes Brexit is a done deal but Europe is still our nearest trader and friend not the USA OR AUSTRALIA especially if we want to reduce CO2 gases.

  10. British wine is usually made from low grade grape juice shipped into the UK in tankers, where yeast is added and a wine is cooked up and peddled as ‘British’ wine! Sadly for those whose who have it in for the EU, the thin grape juice is usually shipped in from Spain, Bulgaria or Italy! English wine is quite a different matter – quality wine that can only be made from grapes grown in England. High quality, premium product! In short, British in this matter describes a low grade product shipped in from the EU where they wouldn’t dream of drinking it! If the chancellor is flashing the tax on British wine he is doing nothing at all to support the local product!

  11. I was slightly bemused on Paul Camics call on brexit, of course there are point scoring on both sides of the political spectrum, along with lies on both sides,remember gorgeous George, but what I fail to understand how can that be democracy shouting and berating each other at the labour party recently,they were really showing their solidarity, to all that tuned in. What was democracy was the referendum vote,which the majority voted to leave,Full Stop, I would suggest you find a party Paul,that will fight this injustice, instead of keep lamenting on something that neither you or myself will change in the foreseeable future.

  12. Oh dear, the same tiresome Brexit slogan “ we won get over it”. It wasn’t a football match and despite the government being in denial, Brexit has caused a shortage in labour in lorry drivers and in food supplies. It’s not the only reason but it is part of the problem.
    Hearing Johnson say he wanted a highly paid and skilled home grown labour force was music to my ears and most odd from a party that has always tried to drive down wages and working conditions.
    They even opposed the introduction of the minimum wage in 1998.

  13. Just to respond to the argument “the British people voted (brexit) so accept it”. Yes it has to be accepted even though now it appears not the best deal, however, the difference in the vote was tiny, in fact just under half the country voted against it.


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