Ballerinas among shortage professions Leeds MP Hilary Benn says, as he talks fuel and HGV driver shortages after Brexit at Labour conference rally

Ballerinas are among the professions listed as suffering a shortage, a Yorkshire former Cabinet Minister has said, as MPs blasted the impact that Brexit is having on the hospitality and tourism sectors.

Sunday, 26th September 2021, 3:50 pm
File photo dated 09/09/19 of Labour MP Hilary Benn (PA/Aaron Chown)

Meanwhile, heritage sites are struggling to get hold of materials and eateries are finding themselves without staff, as shortages and labour issues continue to impact the economy.

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn told a crowd at a pro-European Labour conference rally that “the truth is that bit by bit the British people can see what is happening in front of their eyes”

Mr Benn, who served as Environment Secretary under Gordon Brown went on: “I was at a factory in my constituency yesterday and I asked about them trying to get their goods across to Europe and there was a rolling of eyes of people who have had to deal with it.”

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The rally comes as drivers across the UK are scrambling to get hold of fuel amid shortages at petrol stations which has been blamed on a lack of available HGV drivers.

“Can someone point me to the queues for petrol in France and Germany and Italy?” Mr Benn asked.

“We don’t want to put lorry drivers on the shortage list because we think lorry drivers deserve a pay rise.

“I agree, lorry drivers deserve a pay rise. I thought I’d look at the shortage occupation list the day before yesterday and I found among many jobs ballerinas! Do ballerinas not deserve a pay rise? In which case, why are they on the shortage occupation list?”

He was joined at the event by Leeds North West MP Alex Sobel, who has a job in Keir Starmer’s shadow team looking after tourism and heritage and said that the “battle” on Brexit “is just beginning”.

Mr Sobel accused the Government of “rush[ing] through” a “terrible” Brexit deal, which was now impacting business across his brief who cannot get hold of specialist goods or the workforce needed to ensure they are used properly.

He explained: “When I go and see heritage sites […] and I say what are your problems, they say we cannot get materials because they’ve got to come from Europe, this Italian marble that we need, we cannot replace it with other marble, it has to be the original

“And we’ve got a lack of construction workers because they’ve gone home. You talk to hospitality, they don’t have the workforce. You talk to a whole range of people and there are all of these issues one by one by one.

He told the crowd gathered in a Brighton cinema: “All the things that we said would come to pass are now coming to pass - the food missing from the shelves in the shops, the petrol stations are having fuel shortages, chefs are missing from the restaurants.

“All of those things we talked about and we were told we were scare mongering, we were told none of it would happen.”