Panic-shopping Britons queued up overnight for petrol as Boris Johnson faces mounting pressure to send in the military to ease the escalating fuel crisis.
Desperate motorists reported long lines of cars at service stations across the country in the evening and early morning hours.
Industry chiefs warned that pumps were being crowded with drivers posting delivery details in the forecourt on social media.
Heavy tailbacks were reported across the country at 11am, 3pm, and 5.30am as the panic buying hysteria in the UK shows no sign of easing.
Today a senior Tory MP told the PM that he should send the army now to “return public confidence” and calm the public’s nerves.
In case the crisis does not subside in the next few days, the MoD has sent 150 soldiers to start tanker driver training.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “We are asking Army tanker drivers to be ready to deploy.
“And licensing fuel transporters to keep them on the road. If everyone buys fuel as normal petrol stations will return to normal service.”
It comes like this…
- Welsh drivers blow up “crazy” English stockpilers who are jumping over the border in Wales to fill their petrol tanks
- Frightened by the paucity of petrol, thieves are drilling holes in parked cars to steal fuel after making purchases.
- Man United legend Paul Scholes is seen topping a car with petrol from a Jerry Can
- After a day’s panic, U-turn and government chaos, the drivers faced confusion over the petrol crisis.
- Major petrol producers and experts begged Brits to stop panic buying and insist there is no shortage of fuel
Mr Shapps said today that there are “temporary signs” that supply pressure has begun to mount.
The number of drivers that have already been filled means that demand is waning and the forecourts are again managing to build reserves.
He said this would not have an immediate effect on queues, but “would start to reflect itself with fewer stations closing in the coming days”.
In a joint statement Britain’s 10 biggest petrol suppliers insisted there were no shortages and that the situation should stabilize in the “coming days”.
But unions have now called number 10 to cut off some fuel supplies for emergency workers amid warnings that lives are being put at risk.
Journalist Nick Dixon revealed that he passed five petrol stations in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, which were completely dry.
He told GMB that one of them had 8,000 liters of fuel at 4 p.m. which would normally last a few days.
But panicked motorists ran out of those supplies in just eight hours, and owners don’t know when they’ll be in.
Mr Dixon said queues had been forming in the area since 4 a.m. as desperate motorists tried to fill up their tanks.
Read our Petrol Crisis Live Blog for live updates on the crisis
Brian Maderson, president of the Petrol Retailers’ Association, said it was “disappointing” that people continue to shop.
He said: “As a tanker arrives at a filling station, people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived.
“Then they become bees like a pitcher of honey. Everyone swarm there and in a few hours it is out again.
“When you go to fill your car to its full tank capacity there’s this panic that you don’t normally do.
“You’ll fill, let’s say, half. The average fill across the UK is around £25-worth. We’ve seen people fill up to £100-worth where they can.”
Mr Madderson said his members have not put a 30-pound cap on motorists because they are concerned about the risk of violence against employees.
In shocking scenes yesterday a driver pulled up like a knife on a forecourt before running into “a row on petrol”.
The man was filmed shouting at the driver from the window of his car outside a petrol station in Welling, south east London.
Police were called to the spot and interrogation is on.
There have been widespread reports of scuffles and mistreatment of workers as tensions escalated.
Danny Altman, professor of immunology at Imperial College London, said Britain’s petrol stations have become the “Wild West”.
They saw a fight on the forecourt after everyone queued up only to run out of fuel before everyone could reach the pumps.
He stated that “the man behind me was furious and started punching the guards” before the brawl that “8-10 people scuffled on the ground, punched and kicked”.
The British are also now being targeted by fuel thieves who are drilling into petrol tanks and shutting off supplies.
Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Commons Defense Committee, insisted that troops should be sent to restore peace.
He said: “The country wants to see that the government is in command. The army should not only be kept on standby but should be actually mobilized, used.
“It will certainly help in easing the pressure on the shortage, it will bring back public confidence.”
Downing St is hoping to ease panic buying by the end of the week as many cars now have full tanks.
But motor firm Halfords this weekend revealed a 1,656% jump in sales of jerry cans as Brits stockpile supplies.
A woman was also filmed filling water bottles in the forecourt as drivers waited in line 30 minutes behind her.
Mr Shapps urged other motorists not to comply with his actions, which he described as “dangerous and extremely unhelpful”.
The crisis has now entered its fifth day, with some signs that the situation is easing.
Today a former England rugby player revealed that motorists are also tailing his brother-in-law, a fuel truck delivery driver.
David Flatman, who was capped on the prop eight times, said: “My brother-in-law is a lorry driver and saves fuel.
“He is on the road now and there are people following him – literally tracking his every turn – in cars.
“He says it’s like the end of days. 2021 you all.”
Army should not only be kept on standby but should be actually mobilized
Tory MP Tobias Ellwood
Unions are now calling on the PM to set aside fuel stocks for emergency services workers so that they can continue with their work.
The British Medical Association said there was a growing risk that some health workers would not be able to reach “very sick patients at home”.
The petition comes after an ambulance driver was abused by motorists after taking two days to fill petrol.
Meanwhile, at a service station in Hackney, east London, police were forced to jump into a large queue to avoid running out of gas.
And today teaching unions warned that schools could be forced to close unless employees are given “urgent” priority to fuel.
The rising chaos coupled with skyrocketing fuel prices is also set to worsen the cost of living crisis for many Britons.
The price of one liter unleaded has increased from 134.86 a week ago to 135.19 paise yesterday.
According to official government data, diesel has also increased from 137.35 paise to 137.95 paise in the same period.
There has been such chaos at the pumps that hundreds of people are filling the wrong fuel.
Motoring Group AA reported that it had called 250 drivers over the weekend, compared to about 20 in normal times.
Commuters reported that the London Underground was busier than usual this morning as motorists abandoned their cars.