A pool of British Army tanker drivers is on standby and to be deployed if required to deliver fuel, the UK government announced on Monday following chain supply pressure which has left many gasoline stations empty or rationing the little supply left.
The government added that the Army drivers would receive special training, while Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng insisted that the UK has strong supplies of fuel.
Britain's Petrol Retailers' Association said that two-thirds of gas stations had run out of fuel on Sunday because of panic buying.
Panic buying has been exacerbated by a supply crisis triggered by a post Brexit shortage of truck drivers who would normally deliver the fuel to the pumps. On Monday for the fourth day running cars lined up at gasoline stations in major cities.
The situation emerged just a few days after Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government spent millions of pounds to avert a food shortage due to a spike in the prices of gas and byproducts. The country's officials repeatedly asked people to refrain from panic buying.
Johnson's spokesperson on Monday said his government was not complacent and vowed to take the necessary steps to help deliver fuel to petrol stations.
What we are doing as a responsible government [is] taking the preparatory steps necessary should any further measures be needed, the spokesperson said.
The truck driver shortage — which occurred as a result of the pandemic, an ageing workforce, an exodus of foreign workers and unfavourable work conditions — led to a series of unforeseen outcomes following Britain's departure from the European Union last year.
The government said it would issue 5,000 three-month visas for truck drivers starting in October, and another 5,500 for poultry workers. But that falls far short of the number needed, according to the Confederation of British Industry. Representatives of European truckers are also sceptical that drivers would want to come to the UK on visas that would expire on December 24.
The free circulation of labour is part of the European Union, and we made our best to convince the British not to abandon the EU, commented Olaf Scholz, winner of the German election and probably the next Chancellor.
But they insisted to the contrary, let's hope they can manage the problems they created themselves, said the current deputy Chancellor.
In effect, some 25.000 truck drivers returned to the EU before the Brexit, and another 40,000 could not renew their licenses because of the pandemic.
In a joint statement, Shell, BP and Exxon said that too many cars are filling up with more fuel than usual, but anticipated that the situation should normalize in the coming days. We encourage everybody to buy their normal load of fuel, and prevent panic buying. There is plenty of fuel in refineries and storage.