Johnson considers post-COVID economy as British Tories meet | Economic news

By SYLVIA HUI, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) – British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he is ready to take ‘bold decisions’ to rebuild the economy after the coronavirus pandemic as his Conservative Party meets on Sunday for its first annual conference since 2019 .

The Conservatives’ conference opens in the north-west city of Manchester on Sunday, as a shortage of truck drivers to deliver fuel across Britain continues to cause empty pumps and long lines of ‘waiting in many gas stations. Concerns over broader labor shortages, higher taxes, rising energy bills and a cut in welfare benefits from this week are among other challenges Johnson faces.

Despite economic concerns, opinion polls suggest Johnson and his Tories voted ahead of the opposition Labor Party.

Ahead of the conference, Johnson said he was ready to make “big and bold decisions on priorities that matter to people – like social care, job support, climate change, tackling crime and the passage to the next level “.

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Asked about the truck driver shortage crisis, Johnson said it was a “chronic problem” associated with overdependence on migrant workers willing to work for low wages and poor conditions. He said he wouldn’t repeat that mistake.

“The way forward for our country is not simply to pull the big lever marked by uncontrolled immigration and allow a large number of people to work,” he told the BBC.

Referring to the 2016 referendum that led to Britain’s exit from the European Union, Johnson said: “When people voted for change in 2016… and chronic low productivity, and we are moving away from it .

Johnson said the UK economy was going through a “period of adjustment” after Brexit, and acknowledged that supply chain problems and food and fuel shortages could continue until Christmas.

He also maintained that the situation at gas stations was improving after more than a week of disruption – although retailers say drivers still cannot stock up on petrol at many pumps in the London area. and the south-east of England.

Britain has long suffered from a shortage of truck drivers, but the problem came to a head with the combination of Brexit, which ended the free movement of workers from the EU to Britain, and the pandemic, which severely restricted travel and interrupted training. for national drivers who are supposed to replace those who have left for their country of origin.

About 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, will take to the roads from Monday to help ease fuel shortages.

The Petrol Retailers Association welcomed the move, but warned that it would have limited impact given the relatively small number of people involved.

The government also announced on Friday that it was extending an emergency visa program for thousands of foreign truck drivers.

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Edward L. Robinett

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