A cabinet minister has conceded that the supply crisis, which has seen fighting over petrol forecourts and empty supermarket shelves, may continue until Christmas.
Trade Secretary Kwasi Quarteng said he expected the immediate turmoil to subside with fuel shortages – revealing that troops would be “on the ground” and operating tankers within a few days.
Despite the emergency measures taken by the government, Mr Quarteng acknowledged the crisis in Britain’s country’s supply chain could continue for months due to a severe shortage of lorry drivers.
Asked if the government was sure the problems would be resolved before Christmas, Quarteng said: “I’m not guaranteeing anything. All I’m saying is that I think the situation is stabilizing.” .
Mr Quarteng told broadcasters: “The last few days have been tough, we have seen huge queues. But I think the situation is stabilizing, we are bringing petrol to the forecourt. I think we’re going to see our way through this.”
The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has “early signs” that the crisis at the pumps is coming to an end, and Portland Fuel chief James Spencer told the BBC on Wednesday that “the worst is behind us”.
However, Steve McNamara, general secretary of the Licensed Taxi Drivers’ Association in London, said on Wednesday morning the situation on the ground showed little sign of improvement. “It hasn’t gotten any better.”
The head of the fuel industry has said it may take another month to fully recover from the immediate crisis following an outbreak of panic in recent days after thousands of pumps dried up.
Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that the government was planning to deal with Britain “at Christmas and beyond” with empty shelves and the threat of fuel shortages, despite saying the immediate crisis was beginning to “reform”.
“What we want to do is make sure we have all the preparations we need to get into Christmas and beyond, not just for petrol stations but in all parts of the supply chain,” he said.
It comes as the boss of retail giant NeXT warned of a price hike and said a staff shortage could affect its deliveries until Christmas.
The government has also committed to issuing 5,000 temporary, three-month visas to foreign drivers, but the next chief executive Lord Wolfson – a prominent Brexit supporter – called on the government to take a “decisive approach” by further easing immigration rules .
“I hope that going forward, the government will look further into the future and will not wait until the crisis strikes,” the Brexit supporter said.
Labor frontbencher David Lamy blamed the Brexit deal for the ongoing driver shortage in Britain. “In France, in Spain, in Germany there are no queues to get fuel, but in our own country there are queues for fuel,” the MP told ITV good morning uk.
Meanwhile, shortages at filling stations in Scotland are still “more acute” than usual, Deputy First Minister John Swinney said on Wednesday – although he insisted the situation north of the border was “improving”.
The SNP minister said that if “there was a need to prioritize access for emergency personnel, we would take steps to do so” – but added that this would have to be done “in collaboration with the UK government”.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk /