Boris Johnson reassures drivers gasoline shortage is ‘leveling off’ – but could last until Christmas
Troops will start training to help deliver gasoline supplies by the end of the week, as Boris Johnson has said he prepares to deal with potential issues until “Christmas and beyond “.
The prime minister said the situation in the forecourt of petrol stations was “stabilizing” as he urged motorists to go about their business normally.
A decision to put 150 military drivers on standby has been formally approved, meaning they can now begin training when needed.
Another 150 fellow pilots are also on standby to help with the military effort.
“They are still on hold but can now start training now that it’s approved,” a government source said.
They will be maintained in a “state of readiness” and could be deployed “in the coming days” if necessary, sources said.
Officials from the business department and the defense ministry are working with the oil industry to determine where drivers will be best placed to provide support.
On Tuesday, Mr Johnson tried to calm nerves over supply chain issues affecting businesses across the country.
“We are now starting to see the situation improve, we are hearing from the industry that the supply is coming back to the forecourt in the normal way.
“And I would really like to urge everyone to go about their business normally and refuel the normal way when you really need it and you know things are going to start to improve.
“What we want to do is make sure we have all the preparations we need to make it through Christmas and beyond, not just in supplying gas stations, but in all parts of our chain. ‘supply.”
After days of chaos, with long lines for gasoline and dry stations, the prime minister said he understood the frustration drivers felt as they struggled to refuel.
“From crisis to crisis”
Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of reducing the country to “chaos” because of its inability to cope with the fuel crisis.
The Labor leader said the trucking industry was “more than frustrated” by the lack of a clear plan from ministers to alleviate the problems caused by the shortage of tanker drivers.
“The government has reduced the country to chaos as we follow from crisis to crisis.
“The government does not understand this,” he told BBC News.
“This problem was foreseeable and predicted and the government was totally unsuccessful in planning it.”
Brexit “factor” of shortage
Mr Johnson has rejected calls for healthcare workers and other workers to have priority access to fuel, suggesting it was not necessary given the easing of the situation.
After the government announced that it would issue 5,000 temporary visas to foreign truck drivers to alleviate the shortages that led to the crisis, it also rejected requests to admit more foreign workers.
“What I don’t think the people of this country want to do is solve all of our runaway immigration problems,” he said.
His comments came after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps admitted that Brexit, which cut the supply of drivers to the EU, had been a “factor” in the crisis.