Fuel crisis: Boris Johnson reassures drivers petrol shortage ‘stabilising’ - but could last until Christmas

Boris Johnson admits Britain’s fuel shortage could last until after Christmas as 150 troops now on standby

Troops will begin training to help deliver petrol supplies as Boris Johnson said he was making preparations to deal with potential problems until “Christmas and beyond”.

The Prime Minister said the situation on the filling station forecourts is “stabilising” as he urged motorists to go about their business in the normal way.

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At a glance: 5 key points

  • A decision to put 150 military drivers on standby has been formally approved, meaning they can begin training in case they are required
  • A further 150 drivers’ mates are also ready to help out as part of the military effort
  • They will be held in a “state of readiness” and could be deployed “in the coming days” if needed, sources said
  • Officials from the business department and the Ministry of Defence are working with the petrol industry on where the drivers will be best placed to support
  • Boris Johnson rejected calls for healthcare staff and other workers to be given priority access to fuel, suggesting it was unnecessary given the easing of the situation
People queue for fuel at a petrol station in Barton, Cambridgeshire on September 28 (image: PA)

What’s been said

On Tuesday Johnson tried to calm nerves about the supply chain problems affecting businesses across the country.

He said: “We now are starting to see the situation improve, we’re hearing from industry that supply is coming back onto the forecourt in the normal way.

“And I would just really urge everybody to just go about their business in the normal way and fill up in the normal way when you really need it and you know, things will start to improve.

“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.”

A sign asking customers to only fill 30 litres of fuel and that no diesel is available outside a Shell petrol station in Aldershot, Hampshire (image: PA)

Background

After the Government announced it would be issuing 5,000 temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers to alleviate the shortages which led to the crisis, Johnson also dismissed demands for more overseas workers to be admitted.

“What I don’t think people in this country want to do is fix all our problems with uncontrolled immigration,” he said.

His comments came after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps acknowledged that Brexit, which cut off the supply of drivers from the EU, had been a “factor” in the crisis.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the Government of reducing the country to “chaos” through its failure to deal with the fuel crisis.

The Labour leader said the haulage industry was “beyond frustrated” at the lack of a clear plan by ministers to alleviate the problems caused by the shortage of tanker drivers.

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