EU urged to intervene in ‘self-inflicted’ supply chain issues in Brexit Britain

BBC Breakfast: Walker grills Boris Johnson on supply chain issues

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Alexander Stubb, 53, has called on the EU to take advantage of the ongoing crisis which has seen a shortage of goods on supermarket shelves and petrol pumps run dry. He said: “If the EU would play its cards right, it would offer assistance to the UK now or later when the supply of basic goods and services takes a turn for the worse.

“This is what friends do, even if the pain has been self-inflicted, stupid and unnecessary.”

Mr Stubb, who unsuccessfully campaigned to be European Commission president in 2019, failed to acknowledge the difficulties faced in the UK were also being experienced in many places around the world.

And in a series of posts on Twitter, he also said the issues would continue in Britain for the foreseeable future and were caused by “voluntary isolation and myths of sovereignty”.

He tweeted: “Sorry, but the situation in the UK is going to go from bad to worse with no respite in sight.

“This is not a period of adaptation, it is a rather permanent reality and fact linked to voluntary isolation and myths of sovereignty in an interdependent world.”

The UK finally left the European Union at the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020 and left the EU single market and customs union.

The former MEP claimed the UK has only one route to fix the issues in the supply chain and called for a closer relationship between London and Brussels.

He insisted the UK could join the European Economic Area, which extends access to the single market to non-EU member states.

Mr Stubb said: “The only way out of this mess is the gradual return to cooperation with eventual discussions on new arrangements.

“The only existing model we have is the EEA, but that might just be a too big of an integration chunk to swallow before say 2030.”

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Many of the recent supply chain issues have been triggered by the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen the closure of ports around the world.

A global shortage of lorry drivers has increased delivery times and the rising cost of wholesale gas prices has driven up overheads for businesses.

The Government has announced a series of measures to ease the problems, including increasing the availability of HGV test and introduced visas for overseas hauliers.

Boris Johnson has also appointed former Tesco boss Dave Lewis as an adviser to help fix strained supply chains.

The Government said Mr Lewis would be working with the Prime Minister and Cabinet Office minister Stephen Barclay to make immediate improvements and implement any necessary long-term changes.

Mr Johnson said: “There are currently global supply issues which we are working with industry to mitigate and Dave brings a wealth of experience which will help us continue to protect our businesses and supply chains.”
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