Next boss Lord Wolfson has labelled the government’s immigration policy “insane” and said that retail “desperately needs drivers” in order to stop the ongoing crisis.

The Next boss and Conservative peer hit out at the government’s points-based immigration system and called on the Home Office to allow more HGV drivers to work in the UK to alleviate shortages while speaking with LBC yesterday. 

“It strikes me as being insane that despite the fact that everyone knows we desperately need drivers, the Home Office is still preventing people coming to this country to work as drivers,” he said. 

Having himself backed Brexit, Wolfson was keener to blame the government’s immigration system for the unfolding chaos that has impacted supermarket shelves and retailer’s supply chains. 

“I personally don’t think that’s the problem with Brexit, I think it’s the problem with the way in which our immigration system is being run.”

“I think there’s an enormous difference between having control over your immigration system, which I think we should have, and running that system well, which I’m not sure that we are,” Wolfson added. 

The effects of the ongoing driver shortage have been felt throughout the summer. In recent weeks, national headlines were made when Nando’s was forced to shutter stores due to a lack of chicken and McDonald’s ran out of milkshake ingredients. 

Iceland boss Richard Walker has been vocally critical of the government and warned the ongoing crisis could lead to Christmas being “cancelled” for some families, while The Entertainer chief executive Gary Grant has warned of reduced toy ranges. 

The Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimates that up to 20,000 HGV drivers from the EU left during the Brexit process – adding to a crisis that has left the country short of between 90,000 and 100,000 drivers in all.

When asked if he would welcome European HGV drivers returning to the UK, Wolfson said: “Well, not necessarily just European countries. I think we should be welcoming all people who want to work, who want to contribute to our economy and who have skills that we desperately need.”

The British Retail Consortium and RHA have pleaded with the government to soften its hardline stance on European workers making up shortfalls and warned that the ongoing issues will increase prices for consumers. 

However, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng wrote back to industry leaders on Friday, telling them foreign workers offered only “a short-term, temporary solution” to the shortage. “I am sure you would agree on the importance of utilising the strength of our domestic workforce,” he said.