NICOLA Sturgeon has insisted that the HGV driver and fuel shortage crisis is a result of Boris Johnson’s “reckless” Brexit policy – and has called for the UK Government to “urgently revisit their entire post-Brexit immigration policy”.

Meanwhile Scotland's Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, has told MSPs that the UK Government’s “ideological position” on Brexit has prevented a “a swift resolution” to the situation.

Ms Forbes, addressing Holyrood’s Economy and Fair Work Committee, called for “urgent action” to permanently fix the shortages – adding that the problem “could be solved with a fair degree of ease” by UK ministers.

The Finance and Economy Secretary said that online job vacancies in Scotland for the week to September 17 are 33% higher than the number in February 2020, before the pandemic.

READ MORE: SNP Finance Secretary Kate Forbes self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19

Ms Forbes starkly warned that “even if everybody who is currently looking for work is in work, there would still be shortages”.

She said: “The bottom line is, and you are seeing the UK Government finally coming to a position of accepting that, that as an economy, we have valued enormously people who have come to this country to work.

“What we are seeing is those people who might have considered coming here to work are no longer doing so. That might be because of high visa costs, it might be because they no longer feel welcome – there are all sorts of reasons why people are no longer coming to this country to work."

Ms Forbes told MSPs that businesses often “ask for help and support”, suggesting ideas including “waiving visa costs” but warned the power is “not within the Scottish Government's control”.

READ MORE: UK fuel shortages: Why is it happening and what comes next?

She added: “Or they have asked for schemes which replicate the soft fruit pickers schemes in terms of allowing HGV drivers or others to come into this country.

“We do not have those levers.”

Ms Forbes said: “Urgent action needs to be taken because this problem could be resolved with a fair degree of ease if steps were taken around visas, around immigration policy.

“I think the UK Government has accepted that with its most recent announcement around HGV drivers. The question is whether that is too little too late and whether that should have been done more quickly.

“Labour marked shortages are resolvable, they are within the gift of the UK Government and too often it’s an ideological position that has prevented a swift resolution than anything else.”

The First Minister, writing in a blog for the SNP, has suggested the energy supply issues “are symptomatic of wider problems with supplying essential goods in the wake of Brexit”.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that “the loss of freedom of movement is making it much, much harder to attract workers from the EU” claiming that “the UK Government’s relentlessly hostile attitude toward immigration also deterring and preventing people from coming to live and work in Scotland”.

She added: “The Tories can’t say they weren’t warned about these issues well in advance – but they chose to plough ahead with the hardest possible break with the EU.

“Their actions have been reckless and we are all now paying the price.”

On Friday, Boris Johnson announced a temporary relaxation of immigration rules – allowing 5,000 foreign HGV drivers into the UK for a three-month period.

But Ms Sturgeon has called for the UK Government to “urgently revisit their entire post-Brexit immigration policy” amid the crisis.

READ MORE: Tesco warns of Christmas panic buying as fears mount on HGV driver shortage

She added: “With each passing day of inaction, the problems are only going to get worse.”

Yesterday, in response to questions over the fuel shortages, the Prime Minister said “we are now starting to see the situation improve”, adding that “supply is coming back on to the forecourt in the normal way.

Mr Johnson added: “What we want to do is make sure that we have all the preparations necessary to get through to Christmas and beyond, not just in the supply in the petrol stations, but all parts of our supply chain.

“You’re seeing the global economy really sucking in a huge amount of demand at the moment for gas, for lorry drivers, there are shortages around the world.

“It’s affecting countries across the world. But we’ve got to make sure we have everything in place as the recovery continues. And that’s what we’re doing.”