Simon Clarke says shortages are across Europe and not caused by Brexit

Simon Clarke, MP
Photo from wikimedia commons

Today Simon Clarke, Treasury Minister and MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said, on Radio 4 Today that the fuel shortages are not unique to the UK:

“The idea that this is just a British problem is fundamentally wrong.“

He claims that it is a problem shared across Europe, specifically mentioning Germany and Poland.

No shortages in Germany and Poland

I spoke to Wiebke and Christina from Germany, and Izabela from Poland.

Wiebke said:

“I am in Germany at the moment. Supermarkets and shops [are] full to the hilt with stuff, already Christmas stuff stacked high in the corners, full of fresh produce. All [of] what you hear in the media is coalition talks after the elections, nothing of fuel shortages.”

And from Christina:

“My dad just returned from his epic bucket-list road trip from the North of Germany to the Albanian mountains. He drives a vintage BMW with a thirsty tank that needed filling several times on this 4000 mile round trip, which took him through Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Kroatia, Montenegro into the green heart of the Albanian national park.

“There are no petrol shortages anywhere, not in the EU nor out of it.  Wherever he went to buy provisions the shops were fully stocked. The only thing he worried about was me getting enough fuel to drive from Newcastle to Hull for my trip back to Germany. He phoned me about it as soon as he saw the German headlines reporting the UK fuel crisis in Austria.”

Meanwhile, Izabela added:

“I haven’t seen any shortages back in Poland. The ones here are caused by a number of factors, Brexit being definitely one of them…”

Fully stocked shelves in a German supermarket
Photo by Lee Patrick

And no problems with fuel…
Photo by Lee Patrick

The old script or the new?

Simon Clarke said that he did not accept that the HGV driver shortage was either caused or worsened by Brexit. This is in direct conflict with the views of some other Conservatives.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary, admitted yesterday that Brexit was a factor in the fuel shortage. This was a U-turn on claims only a week earlier that:  “cynics were ‘wrong’ to blame Brexit for the drastic shortage of lorry drivers causing petrol shortages and the closure of forecourts.”

Maybe the government needs to sort out its script and Simon Clarke needs to decide if he is going for the old script or the new?

In the interview today, Clarke added:

“The idea this is about Brexit is to try and take us back into what is really quite negative conversation about opportunities foregone.”

We would love to hear about those opportunities.

North East Bylines has requested an interview with Simon Clarke.

If you are in Germany, Poland, France or other parts of Europe and would like to share your experience on this issue, please contact

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