The government’s decision to allow 5,000 foreign drivers into the UK will infuriate Brexiteers whilst failing to plug the shortfall of 100,000 drivers, parcel delivery service Parcelhero has warned.

David Jinks, ParcelHero head of consumer research, said: “The decision to take the plunge and beg for EU-based drivers to return to Britain, but then cap their number at 5,000, will please absolutely no one. Five thousand drivers are less than the paltry number of poultry workers (5,500) the Government has also invited back because it couldn’t see a Christmas turkey shortage coming.

“Brexiteer ministers are foaming at the mouth at the news any EU drivers will be returning, while retailers and logistics bosses are howling that the move is far too little, far too late.

Jinks said government plans to use MoD examiners to increase HGV testing capacity will also do little to fix the immediate problem, whilst its plans to send a million letters to former drivers who hold an HGV licence, encouraging them to return to the industry is “frankly astonishing”.

Jinks said that the fuel pump crisis had been created by the government’s failure to take decisive action on the UK’s HGV driver shortage issue and criticised its strategy to address the fuel pump queues.

‘The driver shortage has now led to a fuel crisis. The Government’s suspension of the competition law, to allow fuel companies to target specific petrol stations, is another sticking plaster that won’t stop the bleeding.

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“Tanker drivers are the elite airline pilots of road haulage; these skilled drivers are trained and tested continually. You cannot let a newly qualified lorry driver take over the wheel of a petrol tanker, especially after the government recently dumbed down the HGV driver’s test.”

He decried the government’s failure to listen to the industry’s warnings of a supply chain crisis created by the loss of EU drivers following Brexit.

“After most “non-skilled” EU citizens returned to their home countries in the wake of the Brexit vote, we warned the government of a shortfall of up to 100,000 drivers. Those warnings fell on deaf ears. The UK’s entire logistics network is consequently on the verge of a major crisis.

“The government may think it has stuck its finger in the dyke in the nick of time and stopped the flood of shortages. In fact, the UK’s supply-chain is now riddled with holes and unless the Government makes the package to EU drivers vastly more attractive, Christmas shortages are now a certainty."

Whilst Jinks accepted that the driver shortage is not entirely the result of Brexit, noting that other European countries are facing the same problem, he added that Brexit has “doubled the impact of the problem for the UK”.

He also warned that the latest crisis is “just the tip of the iceberg” of the impact of Brexit on the UK’s freight infrastructure,” pointing to the “powder keg” of the Northern Ireland Protocol agreement, which he believes will create even more pressure on the supply chain in the near future.