'We will make sure people can have turkey for Christmas dinner', promises Tory chief Oliver Dowden

People will be able to get turkey for the Christmas dinners, Conservative chairman Oliver Dowden has promised.

Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden.

He told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips on Sunday that there were supply chain problems across the world due to lorry driver shortages but issues with turkey production were being addressed.

“We will make sure that people have their turkeys for Christmas,” he said.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

“I know that the Environment Secretary George Eustice, this is absolutely top of his list.”

He acknowledged “there are challenges with supply chains” across the economy.

“We are not unique in the UK in this. If you look across Poland, the US, other countries, there are shortages of drivers – that’s to do with a range of factors.”

Those included an ageing workforce and the lack of driving tests during the pandemic.

Mr Dowden also told the same programme that petrol shortages were lessening in the North, but admitted that problems remain in London and the South-East.

“I think it depends where you are in the country. So, for example, around here in Manchester I was out and about yesterday and I didn’t see any problems with petrol stations, you can get fuel pretty easily.

“There is clearly a problem still in London and the South East and people feel deeply frustrated and I share their anger and frustration at not being able to get access to petrol.

“That’s why the Government is working tirelessly to resolve that situation.”

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, agreed that the fuel crisis is predominantly affecting London and the South East.

Mr Madderson said there were only “one or two dry sites” north of London and that the “general improvement has continued”, but that the situation in London and the South East remained difficult.

Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It’s all really to do with the population, we have 25 million-plus living in and around London and the home counties.”

He said it was one of the world’s greatest metropolitan areas “and, of course, to go with that we have a massive amount of delivery vans, a massive amount of vehicles, and that is just the chronic situation”.

The comments come as military drivers prepare to take to the roads for the first time today in support of the operation to keeping filling stations supplied.

Around 100 trained drivers with an additional 100 support troops are due to be deployed over the coming week, despite repeated assurances by ministers the situation is “stabilising”.

The Petrol Retailers Association has welcomed the move – described by the Prime Minister as a “precaution” – but warned it will have a limited impact given the relatively small numbers involved.

It urged ministers to ensure supplies are prioritised on those areas where the shortages are most acute – most notably London and the South East, which have continued to see long queues at the pumps.

Environment minister Zac Goldsmith has said the ongoing petrol crisis is a “good lesson” in the need for the dependence on fossil fuels to end. He told The Independent: “It’s a pretty good lesson on the need to unhook ourselves from dependence on fossil fuels. You’re not seeing the same problems with people who have electric vehicles.”

Support The Yorkshire Post and become a subscriber today. Your subscription will help us to continue to bring quality news to the people of Yorkshire. In return, you'll see fewer ads on site, get free access to our app and receive exclusive members-only offers. Click here to subscribe.