Fuel shortages – live: Hundreds of troops on standby as Labour says government ‘reduced UK to chaos’

·37-min read

Up to 300 troops are to be on standby as a “precautionary step” amid the fuel supply crisis after Defence Secretary Ben Wallace signed off the request for military assistance.

Sources said 150 drivers and 150 drivers’ mates could be made available under Operation Escalin.

Government sources confirmed the military assistance to the civil authorities (Maca) request had been approved.

Meanwhile, PM Boris Johnson has urged motorists to fill up their tanks “in the normal way” and promised them that the petrol station fuel shortage is “stabilising”.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer blamed the Tory government for allowing the UK be reduced to “chaos” over fuel, and called on Mr Johnson to give key workers priority at petrol stations.

In Brighton, at Labour conference, he told BBC News: “I spoke to the haulage sector this morning, they are beyond frustrated.

“They said it’s a government that is denying there’s a problem, then blaming somebody else, and then coming up with a half-baked plan.”

Sir Keir said there was a “strong view” that the 5,000 three-month visas the government plans to issue to foreign lorry drivers would need to be for at least six months “if they were to tempt sufficient numbers to come to the UK.”

Follow our live coverage on the situation below

Read More

EU drivers won’t return to help UK ‘get out of the s***’, says European union boss

Ministers order deployment of troops to deliver fuel within days as panic buying triggers price rises

Brexit and low wages to blame for UK truck driver shortage, Angela Merkel successor says

Key points

  • ‘People will die’ unless medical staff prioritised for petrol – Labour

  • Brexit has been a ‘factor’ in fuel crisis, Shapps admits...

  • ...as PM told to ‘stop hiding away’ and end panic-buying

  • UK fuel crisis ‘direct consequence’ of Brexit, says EU’s Barnier

  • Watch: Driver ‘pulls knife’ on motorist as brawl erupts at garage

  • Tories reduced Britain to ‘chaos’ over fuel fiasco, says Starmer

  • Boris Johnson insists fuel crisis is getting better

07:44 , Sam Hancock

Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling coverage of the fuel crisis as it continues to effect much of the UK. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest updates.

Health bosses: Patient care ‘compromised’ if medical staff not given fuel first

07:50 , Sam Hancock

Doctors, nurses, ambulance drivers, GPs, and just about any other medical profession you can think of, are at risk of missing work due to the petrol crisis, ministers have been warned, unless they are given preferential treatment when it comes to supplies.

Campaign group EveryDoctor said that at least one NHS organisation held an emergency meeting after staff were unable to make it into work.

A hospital consultant in Bedfordshire told the organisation, which represents 1,700 doctors: “We had an emergency discussion this morning. Two consultants in our department are out and can’t get to work. Two others on reserve. All four petrol stations within four miles of our hospital are closed with no fuel.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) said it supported calls for healthcare workers to be prioritised for access to fuel to ensure they can get to work safely and on time.

Our science correspondent Samuel Lovett reports:

Healthcare workers need to be prioritised during fuel crisis, No 10 told

BMA demands ‘urgent action from government'

07:55 , Sam Hancock

Following my last post, our politics reporter Adam Forrest writes:

British Medical Association (BMA)’s deputy chair Dr David Wrigley this morning called for “urgent action” from the government to give NHS and care workers priority at petrol forecourts.

“We have no information at all about how to get around this problem, if our fuel is running low and we have patients to see,” he told Sky News.

“We need urgent action today from the government,” said Dr Wrigley – suggesting that a plan could designate a local petrol in each area become a site for key workers. “We cannot continue like this.”

Ministers order deployment of troops to deliver fuel within days

08:04 , Sam Hancock

Government ministers have ordered the deployment of soldiers to distribute petrol and diesel within days, in a dramatic escalation of the national fuel crisis.

At an emergency meeting in Whitehall on Monday, ministers agreed to put military tanker drivers in a state of readiness to take the wheel of civilian tankers if normal conditions do not return swiftly.

Defence sources said that 75 drivers have been put on standby initially, with a further 75 along with 150 support staff available if needed, with several days of specialised training required before deployment, reports our political editor Andrew Woodcock.

Ministers order deployment of troops to deliver fuel within days

Pump prices soar to eight-year high amid fuel supply crisis

08:11 , Sam Hancock

Unsurprisingly, increased and continued demand for fuel has sparked prices to skyrocket in the UK, where petrol costs are at an eight-year high.

The average price of a litre of petrol across the UK rose from 135.87p on Friday to 136.59p on Sunday, according to figures from the RAC. This is the highest that pump prices have been since September 2013. Meanwhile, the price of wholesale petrol has also risen from 123.25p on Monday September 20 to 125.22p just four days later, with the RAC warning that this could cause pump prices to rise further.

One service station in Wetherby, near Leeds, was charging 153.9p for unleaded on Monday.

Simon Williams, an RAC fuel spokesman, said: “With the cost of oil rising and now near a three-year high, wholesale prices are being forced up which means retailers are paying more than they were just a few days ago for the same amount of fuel.

“This has led to the price of a litre of unleaded already going up by a penny since Friday.”

He went on to say that prices could increase in the next few days, “irrespective of the current supply problems”, before adding: “We are also aware of a small number of retailers taking advantage of the current delivery situation by hiking prices.”

08:12 , Sam Hancock

Here’s more detail on soaring pump prices from Eleanor Sly:

Pump prices soar to eight-year high amid fuel supply crisis

Panic buying remains across the country, says fuel chief

08:26 , Sam Hancock

An industry boss has said the situation in Britain “disappointingly” remains much the same as it has over the past few days, with customers continuing to panic buy fuel supplies.

Brian Maddison, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said due to the “number of outages at filling stations” panic buyers weren’t able to fill up as much as they had been - but were “still continuing to try and do so where possible”.

Explaining why there had been no change in people’s behaviour, Mr Maddison blamed social media. “As soon as a tanker arrives at a filling station, people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived and then it’s like the Easter honey pot,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“Everyone flops there and then within a few hours, it’s out of stock again.”

Challenged by presenter Nick Robinson, who suggested customers may feel “it is not panic buying” when there is a “legitimate” reason to stock up, Mr Maddison said this was not correct.

“The average fill up is £25 across Britain, but customers are now going beyond the £100 mark - that is panic buying,” he said.

Mr Madderson also said that PRA members were not putting a £30 cap on customers filling up at their stations, unlike some retailers.

UK fuel crisis ‘direct consequence’ of Brexit, says Barnier

08:36 , Sam Hancock

Some input from Europe now, where the union’s former chief negotiator Michel Barnier has said Britain’s mounting fuel crisis is a “direct consequence” of Brexit.

Mr Barnier, who is running for the French presidency, said the drastic shortage of lorry drivers and ongoing supply chain problems were down to the UK’s decision to quit the EU, reports Adam Forrest.

“Part of the answer is linked, effectively, to the consequences of the Brexit because the UK chose to end the freedom of movement [of people],” he said. “And there is a clear link to the truck drivers.”

Explaining the consequences of Britain leaving the single market, and having to rebuild non-tariff barriers between the EU and the UK as a result, Mr Barnier added the ongoing issues were “a direct and mechanical consequence of Brexit”.

UK fuel crisis ‘direct consequence’ of Brexit, says Michel Barnier

PM berated for ‘dodging the public’ amid shortages

08:41 , Sam Hancock

Left-wing commentator Kevin Maguire, who is the Daily Mirror’s associate editor, has questioned why Boris Johnson remains silent on the fuel crisis.

Twitter asks if a Clap for Fuel campaign is on the cards

09:01 , Sam Hancock

British social media users have taken to Twitter to suggest those effected by the petrol shortages come together and Clap for Fuel.

The original Clap for Carers campaign became a weekly occurrence during the UK’s first national lockdown, though a huge number of people argued the symbolic gesture was meaningless and did not help health workers in any way.

Millions of people, including the PM, celebrities and members of the royal family, spent their Thursday evenings thanking NHS staff and other key workers.

Now, a number of people appear to be mocking the government for its delayed intervention of the fuel crisis by suggesting we come together and clap once again - but for workers in the fuel industry this time.

It comes as staff at filling stations, as well as HGV drivers, have described the last few days as “bonkers” and “absolutely insane” - with some telling The Independent they’ve been forced to close forecourts when customers became aggressive and threatened violence against workers.

Watch: Army drivers put on standby to deliver petrol

09:18 , Sam Hancock

Army tanker drivers have been put on standby to deliver fuel to petrol stations, the government has announced.

Military drivers will get specialised training in preparation for their deployment while certain HGV licences will be extended to help tackle the supply issue.

The decision comes after drivers made a dash for the pumps amid fears a shortage of drivers would hit supplies.

Watch: Army drivers put on standby to deliver to petrol stations amid fuel shortage

Military tankers should be mobilised ‘not just on standby’, says MP

09:23 , Sam Hancock

A Tory MP has said the army should be mobilised, not just put on standby, to “regain public confidence” and stop the fuel crisis.

Tobias Ellwood, chair of Parliament’s Defence Committee, told Sky News he was “pleased” the government was taking the steps that it is, but said “we need to do more than just catch up with the problem”.

“We need to get ahead of it and simply hoping this situation will return to normal is not a strategy,” he told the broadcaster, adding: “The country wants to see the government is in command and it has a clear cross-Whitehall plan.”

Mr Ellwood said Britain had gone from “1 per cent fuel pump shortages to 90 per cent so altering people’s buying behaviour to prevent the panic buying and going back to previous purchasing patterns requires regaining the confidence of the nation”.

“I believe the army should not just be put on standby but in fact mobilised, be seen to be used,” he continued. “That will help ease the pressure on shortages of course, it will return public confidence, and then on top of that there is the bigger issue about articulating a clear strategy to alleviate the chronic shortage of lorry drivers.”

Ex-lorry drivers ‘unmoved’ by pleas for them to return to work

09:45 , Sam Hancock

A government plea for former lorry drivers to get behind the wheel will not solve a labour shortage that has left supermarket shelves empty and prompted panic buying of fuel, drivers and unions have warned.

Ministers from the Department for Transport wrote to a million HGV licence holders asking them to consider returning to the sector. The government also announced a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 lorry drivers and 5,500 poultry workers.

But unions questioned whether the plea would make a dent in the shortfall of tens of thousands thought to be needed, our business reporter Ben Chapman writes.

Tomasz Orynski, a lorry driver based in Glasgow, told The Independent that the visa scheme was “not appealing at all” and the letter had become a “laughing stock” among his colleagues.

Read the full report here:

Fuel crisis won’t be solved by plea to lorry drivers, industry warns

Labour brands HGV issues a ‘crisis of government’s own making’

09:51 , Sam Hancock

Some more on HGV drivers now. Nick Thomas-Symonds said the driver crisis was a “catastrophic failure of leadership” by the government, with ministers “completely failing to plan ahead”.

Speaking to Sky News, the shadow home secretary said he and other shadow cabinet members had written to the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, back in July highlighting these issues.

“We got very short shrift from Grant Shapps, who wrote back to us in the first week of August saying, in his words, that he wouldn’t be using foreign labour to solve this issue,” the Labour MP told Sky.

“Now, the government says it wants to train up - and I’m absolutely in favour of training up HGV drivers, but it hasn’t done that to a sufficient extent, nor has it until recently made a very small concession on being able to bring drivers in from abroad.”

“So this is ... a crisis of the government’s own making,” Mr Thomas-Symonds added.

Petrol prices increase due to panic buying - data

10:03 , Sam Hancock

Average petrol prices at UK forecourts rose from 134.86p per litre on 20 September to 135.19p per litre on Monday, amid the fuel shortage at filling stations.

The figures from the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy show the average price of a litre of diesel rose from 137.35p to 137.95p over the same period.

Fuel prices at a BP service station at Wetherby Services, near Leeds, on Monday (PA)
Fuel prices at a BP service station at Wetherby Services, near Leeds, on Monday (PA)

Johnson told to ‘stop hiding away’ and end panic buying of petrol

10:08 , Sam Hancock

Boris Johnson must stop “hiding away” and tell the British public to stop the panic buying of petrol, according to the former government planning chief who managed the fuel crisis of 2000.

Mike Granatt, the ex-head of the civil contingencies secretariat, said it was time for the PM to make clear announcement about the scale of the fuel crisis.

“It’s called leadership. Somebody needs to stand up and say this to people rather than hide away,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, before going on to praise former prime minister Tony Blair for solving the fuel crisis by delivering a clear message that the country could not cope with any more panic buying.

“[Blair] stood shoulder to shoulder literally with the fuel operators and gave a press conference and explained to people unless we all slow down [buying] the system would not get back into balance,” Mr Granatt added.

Adam Forrest has the full report:

Boris Johnson must ‘stop hiding away’ during fuel crisis, says ex-planning chief

Unions call for teachers to get priority petrol

10:42 , Sam Hancock

Joining the calls for health workers to be among the first given fuel, teaching unions now say the same treatment should be offered to educators.

If they aren’t given it, the government risks further disruption to children’s education, NASUWT warned.

Dr Patrick Roach, the union’s general secretary, said fuel shortages are expected to cause “serious difficulties” for education provision.

“For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles,” he told the PA news agency, adding the government “must urgently consider” making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies.

He finished by saying: “Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”

Watch: Driver ‘pulls knife’ on motorist as brawl erupts at petrol station

10:52 , Sam Hancock

RHA explains why new visa scheme ‘will have little impact’

11:07 , Sam Hancock

Duncan Buchanan, policy director of the Road Haulage Association (RHA), tells Boris Johnson his three-month visa scheme for foreign lorry drivers is “far too short” to help Britain out of its current crisis.

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11:28 , Sam Hancock

In today’s briefing, Matt Mathers brings you the latest on Britain’s fuel crisis and what’s going on at the Labour Party conference.

With no immediate end in sight to the ongoing fuel crisis, Boris Johnson has made a formal request to put troops on standby to deliver petrol and diesel across the UK as prices soar due to unprecedented demand.

Back at Labour conference in Brighton, Keir Starmer has been hit by the resignation of a shadow cabinet minister amid a row over wage policy. Elsewhere, Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, pledged to spend an extra £28bn on making the UK economy more green.

You can get all this and more, on a daily basis, by signing up to the newsletter for free here:

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Pressure on petrol stations ‘stabilising’ but queues to remain, says Shapps

11:45 , Sam Hancock

Is petrol panic-buying coming to an end? Grant Shapps said today there are “tentative signs” the pressure on filling stations is beginning to ease.

The transport secretary said there was more petrol at garages now, but acknowledged it would not have an immediate impact on the queues for fuel.

“There are now the first very tentative signs of stabilisation in forecourt storage which won’t be reflected in the queues as yet,” he said in a pooled clip for broadcasters. “But it is the first time that we have seen more petrol actually in the petrol stations.”

He added: “As the industry said yesterday, the sooner we can all return to our normal buying habits, the sooner the situation will return to normal.”

Watch: What happens next in the UK fuel crisis and what are the causes?

11:50 , Sam Hancock

‘Stop filling water bottles with petrol,' Shapps says

11:53 , Sam Hancock

A bit more from Grant Shapps now. In his pooled clip for news outlets, the transport secretary said on Tuesday there had been reports of customers filling up plastic water bottles with petrol amid continued panic buying.

“[They] should not be used,” he said simply. “It’s dangerous and extremely unhelpful.”

He also rejected criticism that the government has been too slow to mobilise the Army to help deal with the fuel crisis.

“The system was just about coping until last weekend and it would have been capable of continuing to do so,” Mr Shapps said. “Unfortunately, as we have seen with toilet rolls and other things, once people start to pursue a particular item, it can quickly escalate.”

He added: “But there is only so much petrol you can transfer into tanks. That is starting to work its way through.”

Shapps has defended the government’s slow intervention (BBC)
Shapps has defended the government’s slow intervention (BBC)

LGV driver shortage a ‘game of whack-a-mole’ in run up to Christmas

12:02 , Sam Hancock

Some expert commentary now. Financial expert Mike Owens, of Saxo Markets, has said the petrol crisis will likely subside in the coming days. The shortage of LGV (large good vehicle) drivers, on the other hand, is a much longer and tricker process for the UK to deal with, he warns.

Mr Owens, who is a global sales trader at Saxo, said:

“The logistical problems affecting petrol providers may have caused plenty of people to fret while finding fuel over the weekend but there is no actual petrol fuel shortage or sign that these delivery problems will have much more than a temporary upward impact on the price. At this stage you would also expect garages to be sufficiently re-supplied in the next few days and the issue to begin to resolve itself.

“Much more concerning for UK consumers is the price of both wholesale gas and oil which continue to move higher over the past weeks as demand increases and countries continue to search for supplies leading into winter.

“The LGV driver shortage, which in the UK has been exacerbated by Brexit but also present in other countries as a consequence of the pandemic, will only get resolved once enough drivers are trained and available to meet the country’s growing supply needs. Until then it feels a bit like a game of whack-a-mole as the strain moves from fresh produce to fuel to consumer goods in the run up to Christmas.”

Shapps admits Brexit is ‘factor’ in fuel crisis

12:09 , Sam Hancock

After repeatedly shifting blame for the fuel crisis onto panic buyers, and away from Brexit, Grant Shapps appears to have admitted that complications from the divorce deal likely played some part in ongoing issues.

“Brexit I hear mentioned a lot and it no doubt will have been a factor,” he said.

However, the transport secretary stressed the primary cause of shortages had been the cancellation of HGV driver testing last year due to the pandemic.

“[Leaving the EU] has actually helped us to change rules to be able to test more drivers more quickly,” he claimed. “So, it has actually worked in both ways.”

Watch: Drivers queue for petrol in Birmingham

12:20 , Sam Hancock

Brexit has been a ‘factor’ in fuel crisis, Shapps admits

12:56 , Sam Hancock

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has admitted that Brexit has been a “factor” behind the fuel crisis – despite his previous claims the UK’s exit from the EU had helped the country adjust to supply chain problems.

Mr Shapps insisted only last week that cynics were “wrong” to blame Brexit for the drastic shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers causing empty supermarket shelves and the closure of petrol stations.

Adam Forrest reports:

Brexit has been a ‘factor’ in fuel crisis, Grant Shapps admits

Drivers blame myriad of factors for fuel crisis

13:15 , Joe Middleton

Frustrated drivers waiting for fuel in south-west London have today blamed the Government, the media and each other for the ongoing chaos on forecourts.

John Lunn, 46, a carpenter from Wrotham in Kent, said the public had not “learned our lessons” from the Covid-19 panic-buying crisis.

“I was expecting the worst, we drove past at least 10 garages on the way here,” he told the PA news agency, speaking in a queue at a petrol station in Wandsworth.

“It’s utter madness really, I’m not being funny, but we didn’t learn our lessons from toilet rolls and pasta.

“After everything that’s gone on with buying food and not necessarily needing it, we’re now doing it with fuel.

“They mention there could be a shortage on the news and people have gone mad. If they hadn’t mentioned it, people would have gone about their day filling up as normal, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Labour MP reacts to Shapps Brexit admission

13:26 , Joe Middleton

Labour MP Neil Coyle is unimpressed with Grant Shapps admission today that Brexit could have played a part in Britain’s ongoing fuel crisis.

In his tweet Mr Coyle references a comment made by Mr Shapps last week that Britain being out of the EU had helped the country resolve the driver shortage.

He said on Twitter: “So Shapps says Brexit contributed to a problem but being out of the EU meant GB could fix a situation that wouldn’t have occurred if we’d stayed in the single market... Dimmer than a 1 watt lightbulb.”

Labour expects Boris Johnson to suspend Northern Ireland Protocol to distract from fuel crisis

13:37 , Joe Middleton

Labour is braced for Boris Johnson to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol at next week’s Tory conference, to milk the “drama” and distract attention from the fuel crisis.

Jenny Chapman, the party’s Brexit spokeswoman, revealed she anticipates Article 16 of the treaty to be invoked within days – triggering a fresh upheaval in EU-UK relations, writes The Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick.

The government has continued to threaten the move – despite experts warning it offers no escape from the post-Brexit trade barriers – after Brussels rejected rewriting the Protocol.

Labour expects PM to suspend Northern Ireland Protocol to distract from fuel crisis

Teachers should have priority access to fuel - NASUWT

13:47 , Joe Middleton

Teachers should have priority access to fuel amid supply issues or risk further disruption to children’s education, a teaching union has warned.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, called on ministers to take action to ensure teachers and support staff can get into work and schools and colleges can remain open.

He warned fuel shortages are expected to cause “serious difficulties” for education provision.

Dr Roach said: “For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles.

“The Government must urgently consider making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies.

“Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”

The Government has continued to face calls to give priority access to fuel supplies to healthcare staff and other essential workers.

Brexit: Sign up to The Independent’s virtual event exploring the hidden costs of leaving the EU

13:55 , Joe Middleton

The Independent is hosting a virtual event on 6 October, hosted by our chief political commentator John Rentoul, during which an expert panel will explore the pros and cons that the reality of Brexit presents and what the future holds for a UK divorced from the EU.

John will be joined by:

  • Emily Carver, the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Head of Media, and who as previously policy adviser to a Conservative MP.

  • Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the School of Politics & Economics of King’s College, London

  • Anna Isaac, The Independent’s economics editor

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‘People will die’ unless medical staff prioritised for petrol - Labour

14:21 , Sam Hancock

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said health and care workers should be given priority at petrol pumps to prevent “people losing their lives”.

The Labour MP was asked by BBC Radio 4’s World at One if fuel should be reserved for doctors, nurses and carers.

He said: “Yes, and we are facing a crisis, because if doctors and nurses, midwives, if care assistants cannot get to the bedsides of their patients, then people will be left stranded, people will be left in the most desperate of circumstances. Some people could end up losing their lives, that’s how serious this is.”

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports;

‘People will die’ unless health and care workers prioritised for petrol, Labour warns

Watch: Headteacher says school bus cancelled due to fuel crisis

14:30 , Sam Hancock

Angry garage customers accuse ministers of having ‘no clue'

14:47 , Sam Hancock

Some people queueing at petrol stations on Tuesday spoke to reporters about the issue.

Germit Mudhar, a 61-year-old builder who needs a van for work, said the government had been “running around like headless chickens” in response to public anxiety over fuel shortages.

“It’s ridiculous. The government has messed it up, they never think about things seriously,” he told the PA news agency, adding: “Nobody seems to have a clue.”

He added: “It’s one thing after another, they say they’ll do this and they’ll do that.”

Asked about public over-reaction to alleged fuel shortages, he added: “It’s not so much the panic buying, it’s not just that, the government has known about the driver shortage for months and months and months.”

The low petrol warning pops up in a car in Cambridge today (PA)
The low petrol warning pops up in a car in Cambridge today (PA)

PRA: Fuel pressure decreasing but demand still ‘above norm’

14:57 , Sam Hancock

Pressure on filling stations is starting to ease although demand for fuel remains “well above the norm”, the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA) has said.

Brian Madderson said there were indications of “a move towards equilibrium” later in the week.

“The extreme demand levels witnessed over the weekend have eased somewhat,” he told Sky News.

But Mr Madderson added: “There are still demand levels well above the norm and as a result many of our members have sites dry.”

He went on to admit there is “still a problem out there”, telling the broadcaster: “There is still a bit of panic buying, there is still queuing, but we are hopeful that we are seeing the first signs of a move towards equilibrium later in the week.”

15:06 , Sam Hancock

More from petrol customers now. A 49-year-old woman, whose parents both have terminal cancer, fears she will be unable to reach the hospital in an emergency after her car ran out of fuel.

The woman from Wilmslow, Cheshire - who did not wish to give PA her name - said she had to abandon her vehicle in a car park with a message in the window.

She told the news agency:

“In a nutshell, if I get a call to hospital I’d not have the diesel to make the journey - very stressful and upsetting, to be honest.

“I’ve had to abandon my car at three miles... [I] left it in the car park with a message in the window explaining why the car has been left and walked home. I just have to hope the car is safe overnight.

“I won’t be able to see my dad or, in an emergency, [won’t be] able to go to the hospital.”

Social media blamed as petrol panic-buying continues

15:15 , Sam Hancock

People who post videos and pictures on social media of tankers refilling petrol stations are fuelling panic buying at forecourts, an industry leader has claimed.

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), said consumers were watching the footage then rushing to the station in question to fill up their cars, further depleting supplies, writes Matt Mathers.

“Disappointingly the messages I’m getting this morning from our retailers are that panic buying does continue,” he told BBC Radio 4. “One of the reasons for this is social media. As soon as the tanker arrives at a filling station people on social media are advising that a tanker has arrived and it is like bees to a honeypot.”

Fuel crisis: Social media blamed as panic-buying continues

Blood charity volunteers unable to work over petrol limits

15:24 , Sam Hancock

A charity has said its volunteers, who deliver vital blood products to hospitals for the NHS in Kent, have been hit by “frustrating” fuel shortages.

Johan Pieterse, secretary and trustee for SERV Kent, said his team have seen a drop-off of about 50 per cent of “our members who can’t go on rota because they [haven’t been able to] get fuel since Friday night”.

“It’s frustrating because we don’t see the need for the panic buying and all it’s doing is it’s affecting all emergency services, not just us,” he told PA.

“God forbid someone is in hospital needing a blood product or someone is at home and they can’t get it because we are stuck in queues of traffic.”

‘Worst to come’: HGV drivers saw crisis coming years ago

15:31 , Sam Hancock

Lorry drivers have warned that the worst of supply shortages in the UK is still to come.

Petrol stations across the nation are the latest to be hit by HGV driver shortages, leading to widespread disruption as supermarkets continue to see empty shelves also.

HGV driver Jason Garland told The Independent that Christmas will reveal the worst of the crisis as demand for food and goods spikes.

“I don’t think the problem has come to light yet,” Mr Garland said.

My colleague Thomas Kingsley has more:

Fuel shortages: HGV drivers saw issue coming years ago and ‘worst still to come’

Drakeford condemns ‘arrogant’ UK government over visa scheme

15:44 , Sam Hancock

Mark Drakeford has criticised the UK government for its “arrogant” and “exploitative” attempt to solve the country’s fuel crisis by inviting European drivers to work in the country for three months.

Wales’s first ministers condemned No 10’s temporary visa scheme during FMQs on Tuesday, calling it “derisory” and saying it “won’t work”.

Ministers announced the move last week to allow 5,000 foreign HGV drivers to temporarily move to the UK in order to try to tackle the UK’s mounting supply chain issues.

In response to a question from Conservative MS Laura Anne Jones, Mr Drakeford said: “It is hard to imagine a hovernment that has made a more derisory attempt to solve a problem of their own creation. Of course we are short of HGV drivers because your government took us out of the European Union where we were previously supplied by drivers.”

He continued: “The idea that people are going to be willing to uproot themselves and come back to this country for a matter of weeks only to be told by the UK government they will be discarded again on Christmas Eve when they no longer have a use for them is simply... the arrogance of it is breathtaking.”

Drakeford spoke at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Monday (PA)
Drakeford spoke at the Labour Party conference in Brighton on Monday (PA)

Watch: Motorist fills up drum on forecourt despite supply issues

15:46 , Sam Hancock

PRA claims pump crisis ‘coming to an end’

15:50 , Sam Hancock

Some good news from the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA).

Gordon Balmer, PRA’s executive director, has said there are “early signs that the crisis at pumps is ending, with more of our members reporting that they are now taking further deliveries of fuel.”

He said in a statement that fuel stocks remain normal at refineries and terminals, however deliveries have been reduced due to the shortage of HGV drivers.

“We have conducted a survey of our members this morning and only 37 per cent of forecourts have reported being out of fuel today,” he said. “With regular restocks taking place, this percentage is likely to improve further over the next 24 hours”.

A ‘No Fuel’ sign is attached to an empty petrol pump at a BP filling station in Manchester (REUTERS)
A ‘No Fuel’ sign is attached to an empty petrol pump at a BP filling station in Manchester (REUTERS)

Average fuel prices ‘stable’ amid ongoing crisis – report

16:00 , Sam Hancock

Average UK fuel prices prices remain stable despite long queues and pump closures, a report suggests, though there are incidents of filling stations hiking charges.

Government figures show that the average price of a litre of petrol at UK forecourts increased by just a fraction of 1p to £1.35 on Monday. Typical diesel prices rose from £1.37p to £1.38p over the same period.

The AA said that instances of petrol stations increasing prices are likely to be attempts to deter drivers from topping up fuel tanks when they do not need to.

It added that prices at forecourts off main roads “tend to be dearer” but “not massively”.

The RAC has warned that rising wholesale prices are set to be passed on to motorists in the coming days, with oil edging closer to 80 US dollars a barrel.

Online news site Black Country Live said an independent Esso-branded garage in Wednesbury, West Midlands, was selling petrol at 149.9p per litre, prompting community campaigner David Wilkes to brand the owners “greedy” and “ridiculous”.

Calls for teachers to be priority group after school buses cancelled

16:15 , Sam Hancock

The UK’s ongoing fuel crisis has led to school buses being cancelled and calls for teachers to be a priority group for petrol and diesel amid reports staff are struggling to make it into school.

One education union has warned the continuing impact of fuel shortages is “expected to cause serious difficulties” for schooling, reports Zoe Tidman.

Meanwhile, a headteacher, who gave her name only as Michelle, told LBC her pupils and staff were facing trouble getting into school due to the fuel shortages affecting the nation. “One of my buses couldn’t run because we had no diesel,” she told the radio station on Tuesday morning.

School buses cancelled due to fuel shortages

Watch: ‘Signs of stabilisation in fuel crisis,’ says Shapps

16:25 , Sam Hancock

Tories reduced Britain to ‘chaos’ over fuel fiasco, says Starmer

17:00 , Lamiat Sabin

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the government of reducing the UK to “chaos” through failure to deal with the fuel crisis.

The Labour leader called on Boris Johnson to give key workers priority at petrol stations to ensure they can fill their tanks to get to work.

In Brighton, where Labour is holding its annual party conference, he told BBC News: “I spoke to the haulage sector this morning, to the businesses that are absolutely in the middle of this, and they are beyond frustrated.

“They said it’s a government that is denying there’s a problem, then blaming somebody else, and then coming up with a half-baked plan.”

Sir Keir said there was a “strong view” that the 5,000 three-month visas the government plans to issue to foreign lorry drivers would need to be for at least six months “if they were to tempt sufficient numbers to come to the UK.”

Sir Keir resisted blaming Brexit directly for the shortage of HGV drivers but accepted it was partly a consequence of leaving the EU.

Boris Johnson insists fuel crisis is getting better

17:41 , Lamiat Sabin

The Prime Minister has said the situation on the filling station forecourts is “stabilising” as he urged motorists to go about their business in the “normal way”.

Following days of chaos, with long queues for petrol and stations running dry, Boris Johnson said he “sympathises” with drivers over the frustration they are feeling while struggling to fill up their tanks.

In warning against panic buying that has been seen across the country, he said early indications from the industry show that the situation was beginning to improve as supplies have returned to normal levels.

In a pooled interview with broadcasters, Mr Johnson appeared to deflect from government failings by saying that the global economy is “really sucking in a huge amount of demand at the moment for gas [and] for lorry drivers – there are shortages across the world.”

Deputy political editor Rob Merrick reports

Stop panic-buying petrol and only fill up ‘when you really need it’, Johnson says

PM does not pledge petrol priority pass for key workers

18:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Boris Johnson has not suggested that there will be any plans to give key workers priority at petrol stations.

It comes after unions and the Labour Party called on the government to give such workers, particularly those in the health and care sector, the ability to be served first as panic buying of fuel continued to grip the UK.

When asked if any such plan was being considered, PM Mr Johnson reiterated his assurances that the situation has been “stabilising”.

He 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.”

Carers ‘unable to make rounds’ and forced to prioritise patients

18:30 , Lamiat Sabin

The ongoing fuel supply crisis has led to carers being “unable to make their rounds” and forced to prioritise patients, care providers have said.

The government has been urged by Labour and trade unions to find a way to get health and social care workers able to avoid queues at petrol stations as panic buying continues.

Beatrice Hamujuni-Smith, who runs a home care service, said carers were “busy looking for fuel” over the weekend instead of working.

“There has been severe delays. We are trying to make priorities so that the ones with the most severe needs, we get to them somehow,” she told The Independent.

Zoe Tidman and Holly Bancroft report

Carers ‘unable to make rounds’ and forced to prioritise patients amid fuel crisis

47% of people blame media for fuel panic buying - poll

18:50 , Lamiat Sabin

Up to 300 troops to be on standby in Operation Escalin

19:10 , Lamiat Sabin

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace has signed off the request for military assistance, with up to 300 troops available for deployment if needed.

Sources said 150 drivers and 150 drivers’ mates could be made available under Operation Escalin.

Government sources confirmed the military assistance to the civil authorities (Maca) request had been approved.

On Monday, the government announced that it was putting troops on standby to drive tankers as a “precautionary step” if fuel supply problems persisted.

Brexit: Sign up to The Independent’s virtual event exploring the hidden costs of leaving the EU

19:45 , Lamiat Sabin

The Independent is hosting a virtual event on 6 October, hosted by our chief political commentator John Rentoul, during which an expert panel will explore the pros and cons that the reality of Brexit presents and what the future holds for a UK divorced from the EU.

John will be joined by:

  • Emily Carver, the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Head of Media, and who as previously policy adviser to a Conservative MP.

  • Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the School of Politics & Economics of King’s College, London

  • Anna Isaac, The Independent’s economics editor

To sign up, click the article link below:

Sign up to The Independent’s event exploring Brexit’s hidden costs

Some NHS cancer appointments cancelled due to fuel crisis

20:34 , Lamiat Sabin

A number of cancer patients have had their NHS appointments postponed because of the shortage of fuel at petrol stations, according to a report.

The Guardian reported that several cancer patients due to attend appointments this week at University College hospital (UCLH), one of London's largest hospitals, have been told they will have to be rescheduled.

A UCLH spokesperson confirmed a "small number" of patients were having appointments rearranged, but said no patients requiring urgent treatment would have their treatment delayed.

Pound sinks to its lowest point in eight months amid fuel panic

21:10 , Lamiat Sabin

The pound sank to its lowest point in eight months today as the panic buying of fuel continues into the week.

Sterling fell as much as 1.2 per cent to $1.353, its biggest one-day drop against the dollar this year and the lowest level since January.

Analysts have told The Financial Times that the panic buying of petrol over recent days was the symptom of broader supply chain issues that threaten to undermine the economy’s post-pandemic recovery.

Warning against ‘incredibly dangerous’ hoarding of petrol

21:51 , Lamiat Sabin

Warwickshire Fire and Rescue service are warning residents against the “incredibly dangerous” stockpiling of fuel at home.

The fire service said that it received reports that residents have been filling large containers with fuel to store at home, according to news website Kenilworth Nub News.

It comes while petrol stations are gripped by an ongoing supply crisis resulting from a shortage of HGV drivers.

Pictures and footage have been posted on social media od people at petrol stations filling jerrycans and water bottles with fuel.

Temporary visa plan not popular among EU-based HGV drivers

22:15 , Lamiat Sabin

Some lorry drivers in EU countries do not think Boris Johnson’s proposed plan for three-month working visas is a good idea.

The government has plans to issue 5,000 such visas to plug the gap in the essential workforce.

The UK has a shortage of lorry drivers because many have left the profession, there is a backlog of tens of thousands of HGV licence applications as a result of the pandemic, and Brexit.

Joe Middleton reports

‘No thank you, prime minister’: Lorry drivers decline Johnson’s Christmas visa offer

HGV driver caught in crisis says police guarded fuel delivery

22:30 , Lamiat Sabin

An HGV driver spent three and a half hours last night looking for fuel to commute to work.

Nick Howard, 33, from Bedfordshire, told The Mirror that he found an available petrol station with a long queue after he had passed six closed ones.

He claimed that a group of police officers told him that they were guarding an expected fuel delivery just in case people would mob the driver of the fuel tanker.

22:36 , Lamiat Sabin

That’s it for today’s live coverage. Thank you for following.

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