Boris Johnson ordered the military to stand by to help get fuel to gas stations affected by panic buying, as Keir Starmer and the companies asked him to control shortages affecting the economy.
Issue 10 said army drivers would be ready to help deliver gasoline and diesel in the short term, but stopped before an immediate deployment, despite some essential workers they have not been able to do their job without fuel.
The decision was made at a meeting of cabinet ministers on Monday as the industry said consumer panic, rather than an actual shortage, was the main driver of the problems and predicted that it would ease in a few days.
People continued to queue at gas stations despite government warnings that drivers trying to recharge were making the situation worse.
Kwasi Kwarteng, the trade secretary, said it was right for the government to take “sensible precautionary measures.”
“The UK continues to have a strong fuel supply. However, we are aware of supply chain problems at service stations and are taking steps to alleviate them as a priority issue, ”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 also authorized an extension of the tanker licenses, automatically renewing them without refresher training.
A joint fuel industry statement released by the government said companies expect the situation to ease in the coming days because many cars now have 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 help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations. of all country”.
No.10 and the ministers discussed a plan for a more immediate deployment of military drivers, but decided to postpone it for now. A request for military aid to the civil authority was sent to the Ministry of Defense to ensure that some 100 troops were ready for action.
The Labor leader accused Johnson of allowing the situation “to get out of hand, despite months of warnings from the industry.”
“The consequences of Boris Johnson’s lack of preparation or planning are being felt across our country,” Starmer said. “The government must now bring together businesses and unions to develop an adequate plan, both for the immediate crisis and to address the long-term problems that have brought us here.”
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, said the administration should have had troops on standby by now, as it did as Energy Secretary when the threat of a fuel shortage loomed in 2012.
“Someone in the government must explain their incompetence and there must be a case for someone to resign, be it Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, Trade Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng or someone from the Defense Ministry. But this is a surprisingly bad government, “he added.
The British Medical Association (BMA) called for emergency measures to allow medical staff to fill up, warning that when pumps run dry “there is a real risk that NHS staff will not be able to do their jobs.”
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, Chairman of the Board of BMA, said: “Emergency and essential workers depend on fuel both to commute to work and for their work itself, whether it be to reach hospitals, doctor’s offices and other healthcare settings. , or for ambulances to reach people. in urgent need of care and GPs to visit very sick patients at home. ”
Sadiq Khan, the Labor mayor of London, also called for priority service stations for key workers. He said: “With current fuel delivery reductions impacting gas stations throughout the capital, it is essential that key workers are able to get fuel to travel to work and provide the services our city needs.”
The CBI asked the government to do more to anticipate broader problems with shortages that are likely to continue to plague the economy as long as the labor shortage continues.
Tony Danker, CEO of the corporate body, said: “There are labor shortages throughout the economy and, of course, the government is right that in the long run, we cannot just turn to immigration to solve these problems. But in the short term, there is no other solution than to look that way. “
Fuel pump prices in the UK have reached their highest level in eight years, as filling stations dry up amid panic buying, and a further jump is expected as energy costs fall. wholesale continue to rise. Figures from the RAC showed that the average price of a liter of gasoline rose from 135.9 pence on Friday to 136.6 pence on Sunday, the highest level since September 2013.
As queues continued to form on the esplanades the Monday after a chaotic weekend, the AA warned that prices could rise further this fall as the world oil price soars to its highest level in three years.
Hoyer, which delivers gasoline to BP, said it had 50 openings in its fuel fleet of about 1,200 vehicles, and asked motorists to stop panic buying. Meanwhile, surplus goods firm Wholesale Clearance UK said drums were sold over the weekend as motorists stockpiled fuel.