ARMY drivers begin delivering fuel to Britain’s forecourt today – as Boris Johnson warns the disruption could last until Christmas.
Soldiers have taken to the streets for the first time as part of Operation Escaline.
The PM said that this is only a precaution and there are signs that the crisis is averting.
But industry chiefs still warn that London and the south east are still badly hit, with more than one in five stations running short of petrol and diesel.
Mr Johnson again dismissed calls for more European tanker driver visas, while more Britons are trained to replace cheap labor after Brexit.
He insisted: “The way forward for our country is not just pulling the big lever marked ‘uncontrolled immigration’ and allowing large numbers of people in.”
But he warned of empty shelves for Christmas with the economy in a period of transition.
In a BBC interview he was pressed about Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s warning that problems in the global supply chain could mean a reduction in the festive season.
He replied: “The sages are always right in everything they say,” before adding hastily: “It depends how you interpret them.”
Asked about a warning in June by the Road Haulage Association that a shortage of drivers was causing a major crisis, he insisted he knew about the problems long ago.
The government has agreed to grant 5,000 more temporary visas to lorry drivers and 5,000 to poultry workers to address the shortfall in those industries.
Army personnel in combat uniform are seen at a storage depot in Hemel Hempstead as they fill up tankers before setting out across the country.
About 200 members of the military, who were put on standby last week, will initially focus on the hardest-hit areas.
These include members of the 3rd Logistics Support Regiment, who have been in training with the petroleum industry logistics company Hoyers in Thurrock, Essex.