Brits are faced with the difficulty of soaring power bills, food and fuel shortages, and the possibility Christmas could be canceled unless the world's fifth-largest economy hires more truck drivers, according to Reuters, citing comments made by the retail industry to the government. 

"Unless new drivers are found in the next ten days, it is inevitable that we will see significant disruption in the run-up to Christmas," Andrew Opie, director of food & sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, the retail industry's lobby group, told the government on Friday. 

"Heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers are the glue which hold our supply chains together," Opie said. "Without them, we are unable to move goods from farms to warehouses to shops."

He said the next ten days are crucial because retailers increase supplies in October to stock warehouses full of goods for the Christmas shopping season. 

For months, trucking and logistics companies have experienced robust demand, but a shortage of HGV drivers disrupted critical land-based shipping networks and resulted in delayed shipments for supermarkets, retailers, and other industries.

To solve the crisis and make sure that Christmas is not lost this year, Prime Minister Boris Johnson's office said they're considering temporary measures, such as work visas for truck drivers, allowing up to 5,000 foreign drivers onto British roads. 

"We're looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time-limited," a spokeswoman for Johnson's office said in a statement.

UK's Road Haulage Association said there need to be at least 100,000 more HGV drivers to meet demand. 

The cause of the driver shortage is partly because of Brexit and the virus pandemic, which suspended driver training for about a year. 

With Christmas in the crosshairs, the country appears to be diving headfirst into a 1970s-style "winter of discontent" of shortages and socio-economic distress. 

September 26, 2021 12:45 pm

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