Fuel crisis: Johnson suggests no plan to prioritise key workers - as army deliveries 'highly likely' within days

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Boris Johnson has suggested key workers won't get priority at petrol stations because the fuel crisis is "stabilising" - as a defence source said it is "highly likely" army deliveries will begin within days.

When asked if a plan to prioritise key workers was being considered, the prime minister said: "I understand people saying that, but with the situation now stabilising, with things getting better on the forecourt, the best thing is that... we stabilise it in the normal way."

Fuel supply crisis - latest live updates

Following days of chaos, with long queues for petrol and stations running dry, Mr Johnson said he understood the frustration felt by drivers as they struggled to fill up.

However, he said the indications from the industry were that the situation was beginning to improve, with supplies returning to normal levels.

"On the forecourts the situation is stabilising and people should be confident and just go about their business in the normal way," he said.

"What we want to do is that we make sure we have all the preparations necessary to get through Christmas and beyond, not just supplying the petrol stations but all parts of our supply chain."

Despite this, motorists are still facing long queues at filling stations, with fights breaking out on some forecourts as pumps run dry and limits on sales are imposed.

Ministry of Defence (MoD) sources told Sky News on Tuesday evening that it was "highly likely" the army would start driving fuel in the coming days.

They said industry and the government just needed to specify where the drivers would be most useful.

Some 150 military drivers - each teamed with another serviceperson to keep them company - will be available, said a senior MoD source.

All military drivers are HGV qualified and they have already been put on a higher state of readiness.

Mr Johnson also suggested that the panic buying was sparked by a "misleading account" in a leak.

"I think that what happened with the petrol pump business is that unfortunately there was a slightly misleading account of something which got leaked and caused a totally understandable surge in demand," he said.

Fuel industry members said on Tuesday there were "early signs" the crisis is coming to an end.

Esso said the situation at 200 sites it operates with Tesco had "stabilised" and things appeared to be "improving in terms of fuel availability".

And the Petrol Retailers' Association said an increasing number of its members were "reporting taking further deliveries of fuel".

It added: "We have conducted a survey of our members this morning [Tuesday] and only 37% of forecourts have reported being out of fuel today.

"With regular restocks taking place, this percentage is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours.

"There are early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending."

However, Sir Keir Starmer accused the government of reducing the country to "chaos" through its failure to deal with the fuel crisis.

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The Labour leader said the haulage industry was "beyond frustrated" at the lack of a clear plan by ministers to alleviate the problems caused by the shortage of tanker drivers.

"The government has reduced the country to chaos as we track from crisis to crisis. The government is not gripping this," he said.

"This problem was predictable and predicted, and the government has absolutely failed to plan."

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