PM refuses to categorise fuel shortages as crisis, saying it is an issue of demand

  • Watch Boris Johnson's interview with ITV News Anglia's Political Correspondent Emma Hutchinson

The Prime Minister has described the fuel shortages hitting the east as 'overwhelmingly caused by demand issues' rather than a crisis.

Mr Johnson was in Manchester for the Conservative Party Conference, and sat down to speak with ITV News Anglia's Political Correspondent Emma Hutchinson.

Asked whether there was a fuel crisis in the East of England he said:

"This is a problem overwhelmingly caused by demand issues… I sympathise very much with people who have been affected by it and have been frustrated because they can’t get fuel and it’s a very human thing to behave in this way but this is fundamentally an issue of demand."

When asked how he responded to accusations that he and his Government had not acted swiftly enough to avert the problems by bringing in extra lorry drivers or mobilising the Army at the first signs of problems he said it wasn't just Britain affected.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson applauds as Chancellor Rishi Sunak speaks at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester Credit: Peter Byrne/PA

"There are problems with the shortages of HGV drivers across the world from Poland to The United States to China, What you are seeing is a function of the economy coming back to life, growing now faster than anywhere faster in the G7, and I think we’re going to have a much better Christmas this year than last year I also think that we have a very commonsensical British public you understand That this is an issue of demand than supply and that we have very resilient supply chains."

Mr Johnson also said that the Government would continue to be flexible when it came to looking at additional visas for skilled workers for other sectors of the economy facing staffing shortages.

"Of course we will remain flexible and in letting people with talent he want to come and work here coming to the UK and I’ve always been very strongly in favour of that, but what we won’t do is go back to a system of uncontrolled immigration which turned out to be on a far bigger scale than we previously believed."

Mr Johnson also said the Government had provided additional investments to the care sector to help it cope with the demands on it.

But the Prime Minister ruled out stopping the cuts to Universal Credit. Around 400,000 people in our region received an additional £20 payment to help cope with the pandemic.

Suffolk Conservative MP Peter Aldous estimates that will affect 26% of working age families in his Waveney constituency, pushing many into poverty.

Mr Johnson said:

"What we’ve got for people who are facing real hardship, and I have every sympathy with them, is a new fund of £500 million to help in addition to all the benefits that they receive like local housing allowance, the increases in childcare benefit, the warm homes discount. Many other forms of support we give, what we won’t do is continue with the whole package of Covid support, it’s been going for a long time now and it’s cost over £400 billion."