Priti Patel Reportedly in Hot Water Over Immigration Rules That Fuel Food Shortages
10:28 GMT 25.07.2021 (Updated: 10:36 GMT 25.07.2021)
© AFP 2021 / BEN STANSALLWaleed (3L), 29, a Kuwaiti migrant, stands with other migrants onboard the DHB Dauntless tug boat as they are brought to shore by the UK Border Force after illegally crossing the English Channel from France on a dinghy on September 11, 2020, in the marina at Dover, on the south coast of England
UK Home Secretary Priti Patel has heard many criticisms about Britain’s asylum accommodation policy, which was changed during the pandemic. and strict immigration rules that turned into an acute issue following Brexit.
Priti Patel is being partly blamed by her Cabinet colleagues for empty supermarket shelves across Britain due to her UK immigration policies, the Mail on Sunday claims.
The post-Brexit arrangements set by the Patel’s Home Office left hauliers, suppliers and other staffers from the food chains struggling to get necessary permissions to work in the UK. Industry insiders told the Mail on Sunday that warehouses have been operating with 80% staff capacity due to strict visa rules for its incoming employees.
However, the government sources have denied the report that the Home Secretary had been targeted by critics in the Cabinet.
According to the Downing Street spokesperson, the government has “recently announced a package of measures to help tackle the HGV driver shortage, including plans to streamline the process for new drivers to gain their HGV licence”.
But in addition to tough post-Brexit realities, the country has been hit by a so-called “pingdemic” wave as many food industry workers went into-self isolation over contact with COVID-positive people. Some 600,000 British workers have been "pinged" by the National Health Service (NHS) app in the week between 8 and 15 July, leaving their posts empty.
According to Cold Chain Federation CEO Shane Brennan, the “pingdemic” and reopening from lockdown remain “the main driver of the supermarket shortages” the UK has been facing in recent weeks. However, he notes, there are still “underlying problems because of Brexit and the fact many workers have left the country”.
“We need changes to be able to bring in more workers, particularly drivers, otherwise we are going to find it increasingly difficult,” Brennan told the Mail on Sunday.
The British Retail Consortium has now called on the government to allow drivers to get seasonal six-month visas, something which is currently available for farm workers. In the meantime, the UK government has chosen 250 categories of workers, including butchers and fishmongers, as eligible for longer, five-year job visas.