Boris Johnson puts army on hold amid fuel supply crisis | Supply chain crisis
Boris Johnson has ordered the military to stay on standby to help fuel reach gas stations hit by panic buying, as Keir Starmer and businesses called on him to tackle shortages rippling through the economy .
Number 10 said army drivers would be ready to help deliver gasoline and diesel at short notice, but stopped ahead of an immediate deployment, though some essential workers were unable to perform their work without fuel.
The decision was made at a cabinet ministers meeting on Monday, as the industry said consumer panic – rather than genuine shortages – was the main driver of the problems, and predicted it would would subside in a few days.
People continued to queue at gas stations despite government warnings that drivers trying to refuel were making matters worse.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, said it was right for the government to take “reasonable and precautionary measures”.
“The UK continues to have significant fuel supplies. However, we are aware of the supply chain issues on gas station forecourts and are taking action to alleviate them as a priority, ”he said. “If necessary, the deployment of military personnel will provide the supply chain with additional capacity as a temporary measure to help alleviate pressures caused by spikes in localized demand for fuel. “
The government has also authorized an extension of licenses for tankers, automatically renewing them without retraining training.
A joint fuel industry statement released by the government said companies expect the situation to improve in the coming days as many cars now contain more fuel than usual.
The companies, including BP, Shell and Esso, said there was “a lot of fuel in UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry we are working closely with the government to ensure that the fuel is available for delivery to stations across the country ”.
No.10 and ministers discussed a plan for a more immediate deployment of military drivers, but decided to wait for the moment. The Ministry of Defense received a request for military assistance from the civilian authorities to ensure that around 100 soldiers would be ready to intervene.
The Labor leader accused Johnson of letting the situation “get out of hand, despite months of warnings from the industry”.
“The consequences of Boris Johnson’s failure to prepare or plan are being felt across our country,” Starmer said. “The government must now bring business and labor together to craft an appropriate plan, both for the immediate crisis, as well as to tackle the long-term issues that have brought us here. “
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the government should have had troops on standby already, as he did as Energy Secretary when the threat of a fuel shortage loomed in 2012 .
“Someone in government has to explain their incompetence and there must be reasons for someone resigning – whether it is Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng or a member of the Defense Department. But it is an incredibly bad government, ”he added.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for emergency measures to allow medical staff to refill, warning that as the pumps go dry, “there is a real risk that NHS staff cannot do its job”.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the Board of the BMA, said: “Emergency workers and essential workers depend on fuel both to get to work and for their work itself – whether to get to work. in hospitals, surgeries and other health facilities, or for ambulances to reach people. urgently need care and general practitioners to visit very sick patients at home.
Sadiq Khan, the Labor mayor of London, also called for priority gas stations for key workers. He said: “As the current reductions in fuel delivery affect gas stations in the capital, it is essential that key workers can get fuel to get to work and provide the services our city needs. “
The CBI has called on the government to do more to anticipate broader issues with shortages likely to continue to hit the economy as labor shortages continue.
Tony Danker, managing director of the company, said: “There are labor shortages throughout the economy, and of course the government is right that in the long run we cannot. not just turn to immigration to solve these problems. But in the short term, there is no solution, other than to look at it this way.
UK fuel pump prices hit their highest level in eight years as gas stations dry up amid panic buying, with another expected jump as wholesale prices energy continue to increase. RAC figures showed the average price of a liter of gasoline fell from 135.9 pence on Friday to 136.6 pence on Sunday, the highest level since September 2013.
As queues continued to form on forecourt Monday after a chaotic weekend, the AA warned prices could rise further this fall as the global oil price hits a three-year high. .
Hoyer, which delivers gasoline for BP, said there were 50 vacancies in its fuel fleet of about 1,200 vehicles and called on motorists to stop panic buying. Meanwhile, the surplus goods company Wholesale Clearance UK said it sold jerry cans over the weekend as motorists accumulated fuel.