THE SNP have said the news that the UK Government has only approved visas of 20 additional overseas HGV drivers is "a staggering admission of failure".

There is a shortage of around 100,000 HGV drivers in the UK, which is causing food, fuel and gas shortages.

But Tory minister Oliver Dowden said out of the 300 applications that have been received so far, just 20 have been approved.

He told LBC: "The published figures so far I think was just over 20. So clearly that number is going to increase.

"There's two different elements to it. So there is the application for the visas, but there is the streamlining of the testing that happens for HGV drivers in this country.

"Because over the longer term we need to get more people driving HGVs, that's why we're streamlining that process, why we're investing more, in fact we've got military testers also helping us with this. The best way to solve this is getting people in this country to train as HGV drivers."

READ MORE: Tory visa plan 'offensive' to foreign lorry drivers who were 'chased' from UK

When it was pointed out that the figure of approved visas is only 7%, Dowden said: "I think, and forgive me, I think we're comparing apples with pears here. So there is, on the one hand there is people in this country who are being HGV drivers. The overseas drivers, I think that number is just a reflection of the number of applicants that have been processed and have actually got their visa coming here."

Ian Blackford, the SNP's Westminster leader, hit out at the admission, saying: "This is a staggering admission of failure from Tory ministers - over a mess they have created through Boris Johnson's disastrous hard Brexit.

"Independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit and regain our place in Europe."

Gavin Newlands, the SNP's transport spokesperson, said people in Scotland are being forced to pay an increasingly high price for Brexit despite voting to remain in the EU.

"Instead of making excuses, Tory ministers must urgently get a grip of the severe staffing shortages and soaring costs caused by Boris Johnson's disastrous hard Brexit," he added.

"Scotland didn't vote for Brexit but we are being forced to pay an increasingly high price. Brexit has already cost Scotland billions of pounds, and the combination of staffing shortages, barriers to trade and falling exports will cost us billions more over the coming years – leaving Scottish families and businesses much worse off compared to EU membership.

"In the immediate term, the UK government must significantly expand its temporary visa scheme to help fill the 100,000 HGV driver shortage – increasing the number of visas available and the length to at least 12 months from the current three month period.

"However, no amount of papering over the cracks can fully mitigate the damage of Brexit. The only way to keep Scotland safe from the long-term damage of Brexit is to become an independent country, with the full powers needed to regain Scotland's place in Europe and protect our economic interests."