The UK government is not responsible for ensuring there is no shortage of shops over Christmas, a top cabinet minister has said.
The Foreign Secretary, speaking on the first day of the Tory conference in Manchester Liz Truss, suggested Britain was a “free enterprise economy” and suggested the government was not in control.
It comes as Labor leader Keir Starmer claimed the shortage hitting the UK was a “crisis made in Downing Street”, which was “created by the incompetence of this prime minister”.
Economists blame the prime minister’s decision to leave the EU single market and end free movement for economic disruption in Britain.
The shortage of lorry drivers has led to supply problems on the shelves and especially for fuel, which needs to be delivered by tanker.
And there are concerns that the shortage of some items as Christmas looms could make things worse.
But Ms Truss, a staunch free-marketer, told an event outside the conference: “I don’t believe in a command and control economy, so I don’t believe the prime minister is responsible for what’s in stores.
“That’s why we have a free enterprise economy, I’m sure goods will be delivered to our stores.”
She continued: “We have an economy that invests little in capital, this is made use of by the fact that we have a relatively economical supply of workers to work in this country. There is a need to bring better technology and machinery in factories.
“People said that free movement of people was not disappointing wages. This is clearly not true and we have seen the results.”
The foreign secretary, who was recently promoted from his previous job as international trade secretary, also downplayed hopes of a trade deal with the US – which had previously been his primary objective.
She said a deal with Joe Biden’s administration would “be all and end all” and suggested the UK could focus on other countries.
“I don’t agree with you that that’s what it’s all about and the end of business,” he said at the same event in Manchester on Sunday at the start of the Tories four-day conference.
“My message to Americans is ‘we’re ready when you’re ready’ but there’s a whole world out there, lots of fast growing parts of the world that want to do business with the UK and there’s a whole pipeline of business deals on which We’re in talks.”
The previous US president, Donald Trump, was seen to be more positive about the trade deal with the UK than his successor Mr Biden.