Minister says situation at UK’s biggest port ‘improving’ and Britons should shop for Christmas presents ‘normally’

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The situation at the UK’s largest commercial port is “improving” and Britons should shop normally for Christmas, a minister has told Sky News.

Oliver Dowden’s comments to Kay Burley come after a major global shipping company decided to divert vessels away from Felixstowe, blaming a backlog of containers at UK ports, to unload elsewhere in Europe.

The move raised fears of delays to deliveries as the pre-Christmas trade rush gets under way.

But Mr Dowden, Conservative Party chairman, said: “I’m confident that people will be able to get their toys for Christmas.”

He added the situation “is improving” and “I would say just buy as you do normally”.

Mr Dowden added the government was “working through these challenges”.

“There is though clearly a challenging problem, particularly with HGV drivers, not just here, it’s across Europe,” he said.

“Poland, US, even China has this challenge, that’s why we’ve been taking steps to address it, whether it is, for example with training, 5,000 more places for training HGV drivers, making the process more flexible.

“We’re working through these challenges to address them.”

Mr Dowden added: “The government is very much seized of these challenges and is getting on with the job of addressing them… We need to get the skills here, have those higher-paid jobs.”

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