Boris Johnson is expected to make a U-turn on temporary visas to allow thousands of foreign lorry drivers to work in the UK after panic-buyers scrambled to petrol stations, reports LBC.
Furious motorists vented their anger on Friday due to huge queues at pumps despite PM telling them “we have ample stocks” and to “keep buying fuel as normal” instead of panic buying.
The Prime Minister is said to have given ministers the go-ahead to temporarily lift visa restrictions for foreign drivers in order to deal with the issue, according to reports revealed to LBC.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “We have ample fuel stocks in this country and the public should be reassured there are no shortages. But like countries around the world, we are suffering from a temporary covid related shortage of drivers needed to move supplies around the country.
“We’re looking at temporary measures to avoid any immediate problems, but any measures we introduce will be very strictly time limited,” he added. “We are moving to a high wage, high skilled economy and businesses will need to adapt with more investment in recruitment and training to provide long-term resilience.”
Long queues formed at the Esso garage in Brixton on Saturday morning, as panic-buyers headed out in fear of a possible fuel shortage.
Complaints and Grievances
One man told LBC he had been driving around since midnight trying to find a petrol station that was open as he is taking his daughter to university.
Meanwhile, a taxi driver said he is “furious” there are so many people filling up tanks unnecessarily.
AA president Edmund King attempted to reassure customers, saying: “There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems.”
While minister James Cleverly tweeted on Friday afternoon, saying:
There is no fuel shortage!!!
— James Cleverly🇬🇧 (@JamesCleverly) September 24, 2021
On LBC on Friday morning, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps was asked whether the military could be drafted in to drive HGVs. He replied: “I certainly won’t rule anything out at all.”
Today is my last off before I return to work tomorrow. The sun is shining brightly so I thought I’d head out and enjoy a ride on the 🏍 Plan scuppered. You can’t get #petrol anywhere. Is the #UK unique in empty shelves, labour shortages, queues for ⛽ rocketing utility bills…. pic.twitter.com/YrptLWYJid
— Eurostar George (@EurostarGeorge) September 24, 2021
Twitter filled with angry tweets and pictures of long queuing at gas stations across the country, including areas such as Nottingham, Maidenhead, Leeds and Hothfield.
This new fuel crisis further opened already exposed wounds, with Britons denouncing other issues, such as food shortages, labour shortages, queues for petrol, high utility bills, and even the end to free travel to the EU.”
— Sunny C (@24SunnyC) September 24, 2021
Ministers met on Friday afternoon for urgent talks on how to address the current shortage of lorry drivers and resolve the situation after a small number of petrol stations were forced to close, according to LBC.
Grant Shapps said that motorists should “carry on as normal” on Saturday. A day before, BP said it had closed a “handful” of its petrol forecourts due to a lack of available fuel. Also, BP says up to 100 petrol forecourts in its 1,200-strong network are experiencing shortages, with around 20 closed completely, based on LBC reports.
A “small number” of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites.
How do you like your Brexit in the morning?
— Rosalind Thompson (@rithompson) September 25, 2021
At a meeting a week ago reportedly told the Government that the company was struggling to get fuel to its forecourts.
BP’s head of UK retail Hanna Hofer described the situation as “bad, very bad”, according to a report by ITV News.
BP had “two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels required for smooth operations”, she said.
The AA has said that most of the UK’s forecourts are working as they should amid worries over supply of petrol at some sites.
“There is no shortage of fuel and thousands of forecourts are operating normally with just a few suffering temporary supply chain problems,” said AA president Edmund King.
“Fridays and the weekend always tend to be busier on forecourts as drivers either combine filling up with shopping runs, prepare for weekend trips or refuel for the start of the new working week.
He therefore recommends “drivers not fill up outside their normal routines because, even if the occasional petrol station is temporarily closed, others just down the road will be open.