FAMILIES face a nightmare before Christmas as the delivery crisis could last months, Boris Johnson admitted today.
Fears that toys and turkeys could be in scarce supply have grown as the government scrambles to plug a desperate shortage of truckers.
This morning the PM said he agreed with Rishi Sunak that the chaos could stretch into the festive period.
The Chancellor has warned the shortages “are very real” and that “we’re seeing real disruptions in supply chains in different sectors”.
Pressed if he agreed, Mr Johnson told the BBC’s Andrew Marr that Mr Sunak was “right… but it depends how you interpret what he’s saying.”
He was only confident that Christmas “will be considerably better” than last year – when snap Covid restrictions banned travel for millions.
Earlier Conservative Party Chair Oliver Dowden assured Brits would be able to get their Christmas dinner turkeys.
Making a cast iron guarantee he told Sky News: “We will make sure that people have their turkeys for Christmas.”
From tomorrow the army will start delivering petrol to forecourts to try to wrestle the fuel crisis back under control.
The 200 troops will add to the 5,000 temporary visas for foreign truck drivers recruited to plug the shortage of HGV drivers.
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Mr Johnson is reluctant to hire more overseas workers to plug the shortage and favours coaxing Brits to get behind the wheel for better pay.
He said: “The way forward for our country is not to just pull the big lever marked uncontrolled immigration.”
The PM vowed not to revert to the “old, failed model” of low wages for these jobs.
Mr Johnson admitted he was aware a driver crisis was brewing “long before” June and pointed to a global shortage of truckers.
Writing in the Sun today, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer branded it a “crisis created by this Prime Minister’s incompetence.
“The shortage of HGV drivers should not have been a surprise to the government.”
Mr Johnson commands a comfortable 80-seat majority and is ahead in the polls but starts his first in-person Tory conference for two years feeling intense pressure on several fronts.
He has been warned Britain faces a “perfect storm” this winter as millions of Brits also risk rocketing energy bills.
Soaring gas prices have sent several providers bust and forces customers to switch to another with potentially higher tariffs.
Ministers are also feeling the heat over the imminent cut to Universal Credit payments in spite of a legion of calls to maintain the £20-a-week uplift.
The Government insists the uplift was always meant to be temporary and last week announced a £500million support package for the poorest this winter.
The PM will also use the gathering in Manchester to calm Tory jitters about his plans to raise taxes.
The tax burden is at the highest since the war and last month Mr Johnson set nerves jangling by announcing a 1.5 per cent hike to National Insurance.
His controversial move has opened a Cabinet rift, with Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg adamant Brits are taxed enough.
This morning Mr Johnson said he didn’t want to raise any more taxes but admitted the pandemic had forced him to make tough calls.
He said: “If I can possibly avoid it, I do not want to raise taxes again, of course not, nor does Rishi Sunak.”
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