THE politician set to succeed Angela Merkel as Germany's next Chancellor has blamed Brexit for supermarket and fuel shortages which have hit Britain.

In his first press conference after winning the country's election Olaf Scholz lost no time in attacking the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

The leader of the centre left Social Democrats - which defeated Merkel's right of centre CDU in the election - was asked by a UK journalist this morning whether Germany would step in to help Britain deal with the problems.

"The free movement of labour is part of the European Union,” he answered to laughs at the question among the audience in Berlin.

“We worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the union. Now they decided different and I hope they will manage the problems coming from that.”

He followed up with some advice suggesting British companies should pay lorry drivers more if they wanted to address the shortage of drivers which is one of the reasons for the food and fuel supply problem.

“It might have something to do with the question of wages. If you understand that being a trucker is really something that many people like to be and you find not enough, this has something to do with working conditions and this is something that has to be thought about," he said.

Boris Johnson is considering bringing in army drivers after many petrol stations ran dry over the weekend as panic among motorists spread.

For several weeks supermarkets have also warned of supply shortages because of problems accessing stock from the European mainland.

Scholz's SPD narrowly beat outgoing Merkel's CDU and is now pushing for an agreement with the Greens and/or the right of centre Free Democrats on forming a coalition government.

"Voters have spoken very clearly," Scholz said today.

"They strengthened three parties - the Social Democrats, the Greens and the Free Democrats - so this is the visible mandate the citizens of this country have given: These three parties should lead the next government."

The only other option that would have a parliamentary majority is a repeat of the outgoing "grand coalition" of the CDU and Social Democrats.

That is the combination that has run Germany for 12 years of Merkel's 16-year tenure, although this time it would be under

Scholz's leadership with Merkel's bloc as junior partner.

But that coalition has often been marred by squabbling, and there is little appetite for it.

Scholz and others were keen to dispel concerns that lengthy haggling and a new, multi-party government would mean unstable leadership in Europe's biggest economy.

"My idea is that we will be very fast in getting a result for this government, and it should be before Christmas if possible," Scholz told reporters. 

"Germany always has coalition governments and it was always stable."

Merkel's outgoing government will remain in office until a successor is sworn in, a process that can take weeks or even months.

She announced in 2018 that she would not seek a fifth term.

Scholz was clear that her party should bow out of government.

He said the Union "received the message from citizens that they should no longer be in government, but go into opposition".