BRIGHTON, England, September 26 (Reuters) – Transport Minister Grant Shapps on Sunday called on Britons to behave normally when buying gasoline, saying there is no shortage of fuel and the government intervened to alleviate the shortage of drivers bringing it to gas stations.
In recent days, long lines of vehicles have formed at gas stations as motorists waited, some for hours, to refuel after oil companies reported that the lack of drivers was causing fuel problems. transport from refineries to forecourt.
Some operators have had to ration supplies and others to close gas stations.
“There is a lot of fuel, there is no shortage of fuel in the country,” he told Sky News.
“So the most important thing is actually that people go on as they normally would and fill their cars up as they normally would, then you won’t have any queues and you won’t have any queues either. shortage at the pump. “
Shapps said the driver shortage was due to COVID-19 disrupting the driver qualification process, preventing new workers from entering the market.
Others blamed Brexit and poor working conditions forcing foreign drivers out.
The government on Sunday announced a plan to issue temporary visas to 5,000 foreign truck drivers. Read more
But business leaders have warned that the government’s plan is a short-term solution and will not solve an acute labor shortage that threatens to severely disrupt fuel deliveries, including to retailers in the United States. Christmas is approaching.
Shapps called the fuel panic a “fabricated situation” and blamed it on an association of carriers.
“They are desperate to have more European drivers below British wages,” he said.
An Opinium poll published Sunday in the Observer newspaper found that 67% of voters believe the government has mismanaged the crisis. A majority of 68% said Brexit was partly to blame.
Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer, speaking at his party’s annual conference in southern England, said ministers did not plan for labor shortages in following the 2016 Brexit vote and called for a bigger temporary visa program.
“It’s a total lack of planning: we left the EU (…) only one consequence was that there was going to be a shortage of truck drivers (heavy goods vehicles). It was predictable, c ‘was planned,’ he told the BBC.
Reporting by William James and Elizabeth Piper, editing by Angus MacSwan
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.