The favourite to succeed Angela Merkel as German chancellor has suggested Britain’s shortage of lorry drivers is a result of Brexit.
Olaf Scholz, the leader of the centre-left Social Democrats, said that ending free movement of labour with the EU had created a “problem” for the UK.
“The free movement of labour is part of the European Union,” he told reporters following Germany’s inconclusive elections.
Does not happen too often that a senior German politician – and in this case the candidate of the strongest party in the German election, Olaf Scholz – accepts a question being asked in English and answers it in English. See and hear for yourself. pic.twitter.com/r3d1vtwsQs
— Andreas Michaelis (@GermanAmbUK) September 27, 2021
“We worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the union.
“Now they decided different and I hope they will manage the problems coming from that.
“I think it’s constantly an important idea for all of us to make it happen that there will be good relations between the EU and the UK.
“But this is a problem to be solved.”
His comments came after British ministers appealed to motorists to end the “panic-buying” of petrol after fears a shortage of tanker drivers could hit supplies led many filling stations to run dry.
In an attempt to alleviate the crisis Boris Johnson announced at the weekend plans to issue 5,000 three-month visas for foreign drivers to work in the UK, despite ministers having previously said they want firms to train and employ more British staff.
However Mr Scholz, who is the current finance minister and vice chancellor, suggested the British may also need to look at levels of pay and conditions of employment in the industry if they want to attract more workers.
“It might have something to do with the question of wages,” he said.
“If you understand that being a trucker is really something which many people like to be and you don’t find enough, this has something to do with working conditions and this is something that has to be thought about.”