Boris calls in the Army: Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to drive fuel ...

Boris calls in the Army: Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to drive fuel ...
Boris calls in the Army: Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to drive fuel ...

Boris Johnson could call in the Army to deliver fuel to petrol stations across Britain amid a crisis that has seen competition laws suspended and nine in ten forecourts run dry.  

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage. 

The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents 5,500 independent stations, said two-thirds had run dry by Sunday night. Its chairman, Brian Madderson, said it would take up to a week to restock – and warned the crisis could become 'self-perpetuating' if motorists continued to panic.

Mr Madderson said panic buying had caused 'serious problems' for stock levels, which the Government's foreign HGV driver visa plan was unlikely to fix quickly.

 He told BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend: 'I've talked to a lot of our members this morning. They serve the main roads, the rural areas, the urban roads, and anywhere in between 50% and 90% of their forecourts are currently dry, and those that aren't dry are partly dry and running out soon.'

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has now refused to rule out bringing in the Army to drive fuel tankers, saying the Government would 'do whatever is required'.

Ministers are understood to be looking at what additional training military drivers with existing HGV licences would need to take to drive fuel tankers, which require additional safety qualifications.

They will monitor the demand at stations this week with the hope that it will subside within days without the need for further government measures.

Mr Johnson is set to gather senior cabinet members on Monday to scrutinise 'Operation Escalin' after oil giant BP said that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, the Guardian reports.

It will come following a weekend of chaos that saw an ambulance hit a car in a petrol queue and ministers suspending competition laws in a bid to beat back the crisis. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has agreed to implement a measure to temporarily exempt the oil industry from the Competition Act 1998 for the purpose of sharing information and optimising supply.

Officials said the measure will make it easier for industry to share information so that they can prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.  

The triggering of what is known as the Downstream Oil Protocol came after more petrol stations were forced to close on Sunday amid panic buying and the knock-on impact of the HGV crisis crippling the UK's transport industry.  

And footage filmed in Bromley, Greater London, showed an ambulance being driven by paramedics bumping into the back of the car as paramedics tried to manoeuvre past a queue for a Shell petrol station which had spilled onto the road.  

The paramedics had to stop to exchange details with the driver of the damaged car and a different ambulance had to attend the emergency.   

Police also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel.  

As the developing fuel crisis unfolds, it was revealed on Sunday:

That the government plan to fast-track visas for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers; However the move was criticised by industry experts, who said it was like 'throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire; Meanwhile Keir Starmer called for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be given the green light to come to the UK to solve HGV shortage after the Government unveils plans to grant 5,000 temporary visas;   Boris Johnson, meanwhile, insisted on a pay rise for all truckers and will send a million of them morale-booster letters as he love-bombs HGV drivers to try and save Christmas;  Ministers also pointed the finger at ex-BBC man and diehard Remainer who 'leaked remarks made by a BP executive at a private Government meeting'; The BBC also came under fire for 'pretending driver crisis is all about Brexit' and ignoring the fact shortages have affected countries throughout the world; Experts warned there will be much less choice in supermarkets as bosses prepare for months of shortages that will leave gaps on shelves; And, in a further blow, it was revealed Britain's second biggest oil refinery Stanlow, was holding crisis talks with HMRC over a £223m VAT bill.

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage (file image, Army tankers in North Yorkshire, September 2000)

Ministers will consider drafting in troops to deliver petrol and diesel later this week if panic-buying persists, sources said, after Government officials gave the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage (file image, Army tankers in North Yorkshire, September 2000) 

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London. Picture date: Sunday September 26

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London. Picture date: Sunday September 26

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill'

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill'

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Cars queue for a Tesco petrol station to reopen in Camberley, Surrey, after it was refueled. The Government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of UK industries

Cars queue for a Tesco petrol station to reopen in Camberley, Surrey, after it was refueled. The Government is considering temporary measures to tackle the shortage of HGV drivers which is wreaking havoc on a number of UK industries

Drivers queue for fuel on the A14 near Bosworth services in Cambridge on Sunday as desperate motorists rushed to petrol stations

Drivers queue for fuel on the A14 near Bosworth services in Cambridge on Sunday as desperate motorists rushed to petrol stations

Government officials have today green lit plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage - with the UK said to be 100,000 HGV drivers short, according to the Road Haulage Association. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Camberley, Surrey

Government officials have today green lit plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage - with the UK said to be 100,000 HGV drivers short, according to the Road Haulage Association. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a Sainsbury's petrol station in Camberley, Surrey

An orderly queue as staff at the BP direct motorists to a vacant fuel pump at the Boreham Interchange on the A12 near Chelmsford in Essex

An orderly queue as staff at the BP direct motorists to a vacant fuel pump at the Boreham Interchange on the A12 near Chelmsford in Essex

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle this afternoon

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle this afternoon

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel

Today one worker was seen refilling the tanks at an Esso petrol station

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel. Large queues have formed this morning

Fuel tankers have arrived in Essex after pumps ran dry yesterday with many fuel stations completely running out of fuel. Large queues have formed this morning. Today one worker was seen refilling the tanks at an Esso petrol station

Motorists fill up their vehicles with fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Motorists fill up their vehicles with fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

A 'no diesel' sign has been placed outside a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

A 'no diesel' sign has been placed outside a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London, on September 26

Motorists queue up for fuel at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London, on September 26

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill.' 

Government officials have given the green light for plans to bring in 5,000 foreign lorry drivers to deal with the shortage - with the UK said to be 100,000 HGV drivers short, according to the Road Haulage Association.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps today took aim at the group, accusing them of sparking the panic buying crisis.

But he also warned that the lorry driver shortage could go on 'for years', despite the Government doubling the number of tests that can be carried out in a bid to quickly boost driver numbers.  

Britain's second biggest oil refinery faces collapse as fuel crisis cripples nation: Stanlow plant chiefs hold crisis talks with HMRC over £223m VAT bill 

Britain's second biggest oil refinery is in crisis talks with tax officials amid fears it could be on the brink of collapse.

Bosses behind Stanlow Oil Refinery, in Ellesmere Port, Cheshire, are in urgent talks with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) over a £223million VAT payment.

The refinery, which has been under financial strain during the Covid pandemic, needs to start repaying the bill this week unless it can agree a new deal, according to the Sunday Times

Owned by the billionaire Ruia brothers, Shashi and Ravi, through their company Essar Oil UK, the refinery supplies about a sixth of Britain's road fuel. It is also supplies jet fuel for Manchester and Birmingham airports.

Around 900 people are employed directly at the refinery and around 800 contractors also work on site.

The refinery's VAT bill built up during the pandemic under the Government's Covid VAT deferral scheme. 

The scheme, launched in March last year, allowed firms to defer VAT payments to help businesses stay afloat during the first Covid lockdown.

But businesses were ordered to either pay back the money by March 2021, join an interest free instalment scheme stretching to June, or make arrangements with HMRC to push back the payments.

Essar Oil UK is said to have taken advantage of the scheme, to the tune of £356million. 

It entered into a time-to-pay ('TTP') arrangement with HMRC for a total of £770million in April 2021. 

The company says it has paid back £547million leaving a balance of £223 million - which must be paid by January next year. 

Payments are due to begin this week. They are due to coincide with an end to the Government's suspension on winding-up petitions. 

However the company says the economic recovery has been 'slower than predicted' and it will therefore not make the payment and that it was in talks to 'modify that schedule'.

'Therefore EOUK in discussions with HMRC over a short extension to make those deferred VAT payments,' a spokesman told MailOnline.

'Those discussions are positive and EOUK looks forward to a resolution soon,' the spokesman added.

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Brian Madderson, chairman of the PRA, said panic buying had caused 'serious problems' for stock levels, which the Government's foreign HGV driver visa plan was unlikely to fix quickly.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4's The World This Weekend, Mr Madderson said: 'I've talked to a lot of our members this morning. They serve the main roads, the rural areas, the urban roads, and anywhere in between 50% and 90% of their forecourts are currently dry, and those that aren't dry are partly dry and running out soon. 

'We have seen another phenomenon which is that the oil companies, perhaps rightly, have been giving motorway service areas priority delivery, and so people are now flocking on to motorways wherever they have one nearby and buying fuel from the motorways. One of them mentioned to me that yesterday they had a 500% increase in demand compared to a week ago, which is quite extraordinary.'

Oil giant BP also said that nearly a third of their petrol stations in Britain have run out of fuel despite continued pleas for motorists to 'continue as normal'.  

BP, which operates 1,200 sites in Britain, said in a statement: 'With the intense demand seen over the past two days, we estimate that around 30 per cent of sites in this network do not currently have either of the main grades of fuel.'

Mr Kwarteng said: 'We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption. While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.

'This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised. We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.'  

A fight also broke out between moped drivers at a petrol station in north London and was captured and shared online as motorists queued to fill up. 

The footage, shared on twitter, showed one driver running and jump-kicking another at a BP garage in Haverstock Hill, near Camden as motorists pack out petrol stations across the country. 

The two men were already seemingly being separated before the physical fight began, with one trying to use his crash helmet to attack the other. 

It comes after a four-man fight broke out at an Esso garage in Chichester, West Sussex yesterday. 

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage.  

One motorist said: 'I have been driving around Croydon, Bromley, Westerham, Oxted and Godstone for two hours and passed over twenty garages.

'Eighteen were completely shut and two had queues so long, you couldn't even join them.' 

London Ambulance Service told MailOnline: 'We can confirm that one of our ambulances was involved in a collision with another vehicle on Bromley Hill at approximately 6.55pm on 25 September while on a blue light call to a patient.

'As a result of the incident, the ambulance was out of service for a short amount of time and a different ambulance crew attended the patient.'

It comes as Mr Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages. 

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'. 

He said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country 'will come to an end' because soon 'everyone's cars will be more or less filled up'. 

Mr Shapps said the chaos is a 'manufactured situation' in comments likely to spark fury among retailers and transport bosses.

But he said that it would take a 'considerable amount of time' to fix the issue, which he said had been going on for five years and was also a problem in EU countries such as Poland. 

Speaking on Times Radio's T&G show, Mr Shapps said: 'It is certainly going to take a considerable amount of time to alleviate this long term shortage of drivers which has gone on for five years.

'If you talk to the boss of Logistics UK, he came into the job five years ago and the first problem on his desk was a shortage of drivers. It's never changed. So that's going to take time to unwind.'

Asked whether it would be months or years before the crisis was resolved, Mr Shapps said: 'It will take months to years to fully unwind. But the short term issue can actually resolve itself immediately, because we don't actually have a shortage (of fuel)...

'I can't give you an exact day and hour because it does depend on millions of people's behaviour when it comes to the petrol pumps as well.' 

A motorist fills up a car at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London on September 26

A motorist fills up a car at a Sainsbury's supermarket petrol station in North West London on September 26

Turkey farmers see 250% surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner

Turkey farmers are reporting a surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner amid fears of a poultry shortage. 

There have been unprecedented numbers of orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year.

This panic buying surge has seen some farms receive more than five times the number of orders as in 2020. Several farms are reporting 250 per cent surges compared to figures from this time last year. 

Meanwhile the boss of the UK's Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) today blamed Brexit for Britain's supply chain crisis. 

The recent closure of fertiliser factories, due to a spike in natural gas prices, has also led to disruption in food production.

The closure of the plants, one of which has since reopened as part of a Government deal, has led to a decrease in food-grade carbon dioxide - used to stun animals for slaughter, as well as in packing meat, dairy and salads. 

Fears over a possible shortage has now led to a surge in ordering good quality turkeys to prepare for Christmas, according to the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) which represents the high-end turkey market.

To cater for the increase in demand in turkeys, many farmers have had to start taking orders earlier than usual with one Cornish farm having customers push to order as early as August.

Supermarket Tesco has already warned that a shortage of delivery drivers, which is causing empty shelves, could lead to panic buying across Britain in the lead up to Christmas.

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It came as experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'. 

There is an estimated shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers in the UK freight sector. 

The Government has announced plans to offer 5,000 three-month visas to foreign lorry drivers in a short term bid to ease pressure on supply chains. 

The announcement came after scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations as the shortage of fuel tanker drivers forced some retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales. 

The British Retail Consortium and the British Chambers of Commerce criticised the scope of the measures set out by the Government which were seen by some as a step back from Boris Johnson's stated ambition to create a high-wage, high-skilled post-Brexit economy.

It also came as turkey farmers reported a surge in orders as families scramble to save Christmas dinner amid fears of a poultry shortage. 

There have been unprecedented numbers of orders for turkey, with most high-end farms reporting soaring demand compared to this time last year.

This panic buying surge has seen some farms receive more than five times the number of orders as in 2020. Several farms are reporting 250 per cent surges compared to figures from this time last year. 

Meanwhile the boss of the UK's Traditional Farm Fresh Turkey Association (TFTA) today blamed Brexit for Britain's supply chain crisis. 

The recent closure of fertiliser factories, due to a spike in natural gas prices, has also led to disruption in food production.

The closure of the plants, one of which has since reopened as part of a Government deal, has led to a decrease in food-grade carbon dioxide - used to stun animals for slaughter, as well as in packing meat, dairy and salads. 

Fears over a possible shortage has now led to a surge in ordering good quality turkeys to prepare for Christmas, according to the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) which represents the high-end turkey market.

It comes as a chilled food firm which supplies the likes of Asda and Sainsbury's (pictured: Library image) yesterday announced it had gone into administration amid the UK's crippling lorry driver shortage

It comes as a chilled food firm which supplies the likes of Asda and Sainsbury's (pictured: Library image) yesterday announced it had gone into administration amid the UK's crippling lorry driver shortage

Supply issue threatens Christmas: The classic Christmas dinner could be decimated, with turkey, pigs in blankets, potatoes and brussel sprouts all at risk by ongoing supply and distributions issues, as well as a potential CO2 crisis. Meanwhile, toys, vinyl and books could also experience shortages - with experts even warning of Christmas trees not being available

Supply issue threatens Christmas: The classic Christmas dinner could be decimated, with turkey, pigs in blankets, potatoes and brussel sprouts all at risk by ongoing supply and distributions issues, as well as a potential CO2 crisis. Meanwhile, toys, vinyl and books could also experience shortages - with experts even warning of Christmas trees not being available

Fuel campaigner's home besieged by drivers after pranksters turned it into Shell garage on GoogleMaps 

A fuel campaigner's home has been besieged by drivers - after pranksters turned it into a Shell garage on GoogleMaps.

Howard Cox, the public face of a campaign calling for fairer fuel prices, received more than 70 calls from motorists on the hunt for fuel.

The jokers registered his home address in Kent on Google and marked it up as a Shell garage - complete with picture of a forecourt and review.

Mr Cox, who fronts FairFuel UK, said: 'I got home the night before last and this bloke asked if I had any petrol there.

'I was like 'what?'. It sounds funny but when you get 70 calls it makes you annoyed.

'I've done lots of media appearances recently about the petrol crisis so my name is out there and some idiot has gone out there thinking it's funny.

'It's not funny at all. You just don't do that sort of thing.

'It's probably a militant environmentalist or militant cyclist - it's those sorts of people who do this sort of thing.'

FairFuel UK has long campaigned for fairer prices for UK motorists at the pump and it is not the first time Mr Cox has been targeted for his activism.

He explained: 'I've had faeces through the door, wrapped up in a cycle glove, and things like that.

'I've been subject to a lot of this, and all I'm trying to do is help UK drivers get a better deal.'

Mr Cox, meanwhile, does not believe government plans to offer thousands of visas to overseas lorry drivers will 'even touch the sides' and does not think think the problem will be short lived

He explained: 'The scaremongering by Grant Shapps saying don't panic is obviously going to create panic.

'We know that from the toilet roll problems during Covid.

'I think it will still be pretty bad for a couple of days but in three or four days everything will be back to normal.

'Petrol and diesel are in full supply - it's just the driver shortage.'

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To cater for the increase in demand in turkeys, many farmers have had to start taking orders earlier than usual with one Cornish farm having customers push to order as early as August.

Supermarket Tesco has already warned that a shortage of delivery drivers, which is causing empty shelves, could lead to panic buying across Britain in the lead up to Christmas.

Kate Martin, a Cornish turkey farmer and chair of the Traditional FarmFresh Turkey Association (TFTA) said: 'Last year we saw record demand, particularly for smaller turkeys, due to an increase in smaller gatherings and a desire to make Christmas lunch extra special, despite the restrictions.

'This year, many of our members have increased their flocks significantly to help meet growing demand for quality turkeys.

'While there will be more Golden Standard turkeys available this year, the orders we are currently seeing surpass anything we have ever seen before.'

It comes as Derbyshire-based EVCL Chill Ltd called in administrators, with around 400 jobs said to be at risk.

Administrators PwC said acute driver shortages had added to the company's challenges.

EVCL Chill, which is based in Alfreston, has sites across the UK including Daventry, Rochdale, Crick and Penrith.

It employed more than 1,000 staff in warehousing and HGV driving roles. Around 650 employees had been transferred 'to key customers', administrators said.

Around 400 staff are said to be 'at risk' and will be addressed about the company's future on Monday, saw PwC.

The company turned over £167million in the period up to December 2020.

But administrators say the firm had lost key customers in recent years. The company's issues had been compounded by the UK's HGV driver shortage, according to PwC.

Meanwhile, community nursing and care workers are also being impacted by the crisis, according to union chiefs.

They say members have warned that staff may struggle to get into work or to their clients on Monday due to being unable to fuel their vehicles.

Gary Smith, GMB General Secretary, took aim at the Government today over its handling. 

He told MailOnline:'There is no plan in Number 10, only panic - and it's piling pressure on workers and services at every level.

'The run on the forecourts is unnecessarily affecting frontline workers in our ambulance and home care services and the rising cost of energy will cause distress for the lowest paid households trying to make ends meet.

'We need to ensure emergency and community services are properly resourced as a priority and that employers allow more flexibility on working from home to reduce the strain on this avoidable crisis.' 

Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London amid the developing fuel crisis

A member of staff directs drivers queuing for fuel at an Asda petrol station in south London amid the developing fuel crisis

Motorists queue for petrol and diesel fuel at a Shell petrol station in Fleet, west of London on September 26

Motorists queue for petrol and diesel fuel at a Shell petrol station in Fleet, west of London on September 26

Frustrated motorists trying to get past the queue that blocked the road as motorists queued for fuel at Tesco in Danbury, Essex

Frustrated motorists trying to get past the queue that blocked the road as motorists queued for fuel at Tesco in Danbury, Essex

Mr Shapps today insisted there is 'plenty' of petrol as he urged motorists to refrain from panic buying. He told Sky News there had been some 'pretty irresponsible briefing' by one of the road haulage associations 'which has helped spark a crisis'. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire

Mr Shapps today insisted there is 'plenty' of petrol as he urged motorists to refrain from panic buying. He told Sky News there had been some 'pretty irresponsible briefing' by one of the road haulage associations 'which has helped spark a crisis'. Pictured: Cars queue for fuel at a BP petrol station in Bracknell, Berkshire

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle this afternoon

With petrol in short supply across the North East, a long queue of vehicles wait to fill up at an Esso fuel station in Byker, Newcastle this afternoon

Experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'

Experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

Keir Starmer calls for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be given the green light to come to the UK to solve HGV shortage after the Government unveils plans to grant 5,000 temporary visas

Sir Keir Starmer today called for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be granted visas to come to the UK as he blasted the Government's handling of the fuel crisis. 

Ministers have announced a temporary visa scheme that will see 5,000 HGV drivers allowed to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.

But Sir Keir said 'we are going to have to bring in more drivers and more visas' amid reports that the shortfall of drivers is north of 90,000. 

The Labour leader said that 'for a long time we have known there is a problem' and it was 'predicted' the situation would get worse after Brexit

He said the Government was guilty of a 'complete lack of planning' as he suggested he would also grant permission for EU workers to come to the UK to take jobs in other industries struggling with recruitment like hospitality and food processing. 

The shortage of HGV drivers has hit the nation's fuel network while retailers have warned the Government that it has just 10 days to save Christmas from 'significant disruption' amid pressure on the food supply chain.

Ministers want firms to hire and train British workers to fill HGV vacancies, with the 5,000 visas viewed as a short term fix. 

But Sir Keir said the Government must go much further to avoid prolonged chaos this winter. 

He said: 'On the HGV situation, we are going to have to bring in more drivers and more visas.

'I am astonished that the Government, knowing the situation is not acting today.

'The Prime Minister needs to say today what he is going to do. There are 100,000 vacancies for drivers.'  

Sir Keir continued: 'For a long time we have known there is a problem with HGV drivers, that has been there for years.

'But we knew in particular that when we exited the EU there would be a need for a back up plan to deal with the situation and there is no plan from the Government on this, and here we are, 100,000 needed and the Government is talking about 5,000 visas.'

Asked directly if he would bring in 100,000 foreign drivers if he was prime minister, Sir Keir said: 'We are going to have to do that. We have to issue enough visas to cover the number of drivers that we need.'

He added: 'If there is 100,000 vacancies for drivers in this country and the Government is saying we are going to bring in 5,000 visas, there is an obvious problem.

'100,000 is, I think Norwich is

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