Transport Secretary Grant Shapps failed to rule out drafting in military support to end the fuel shortages caused by a lack of HGV drivers
Image: Daily Mirror/Andy Stenning)
The army could be drafted in to deliver petrol as ministers scramble to resolve shortages of petrol at the pumps.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps failed to rule out calling on military drivers to get fuel to petrol station forecourts.
Motorists have faced long queues in recent days as some petrol stations have been forced to shut due to lack of fuel.
A shortage of nearly 100,000 HGV drivers has been blamed for the crisis – meaning there are not enough hauliers to get petrol to the pumps.
Asked if he’d bring in Army drivers to deliver fuel, Mr Shapps told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “We’ll do whatever’s required”.
Pressed again if army drivers could be on the roads by next week Mr Shapps said: “We’ll do whatever we need to do to make sure things flow in this country, and that’s what you would expect us to do.”
He said at the moment the army “make sure we’re testing HGV drivers”.
He urged Brits: “Fill up when you need to, then there’s actually plenty of petrol to go round.”
Mr Shapps tried to claim the shortages were a “manufactured” crisis caused by a leak to the media by haulage industry insiders,
He said: “There was a meeting that took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting, which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to the media and that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern and people naturally react to that.
“The good news is there is plenty of fuel, the bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it, you would continue to have queues.”
He said the demand should begin to ease as it is difficult to stockpile fuel and said the situation could not be compared to widespread shortages of toilet roll at the start of the first lockdown.
Asked whether the Government had ignored warnings over supply shortages, he said: “Not true, adding: “I’m afraid there has been some pretty irresponsible briefing out by one of the road haulage associations, which has helped to spark a crisis, and that’s very, very unhelpful, it’s counterproductive.
“I know that they’re desperate to have more European drivers undercutting British salaries, I know that’s been their ask all along.
“We actually think that it’s important that this country can train people, that people can do a proper day’s work, that they’re paid properly for that work, and that the long-term solution cannot be undercutting British salaries and having a constant vicious cycle of not being able to train people here and employ them on decent salaries.”
But Keir Starmer said the government was doing too little to tackle the trucker shortage.
“if there’s 100,000 vacancies for drivers in this country and the government is saying we’re going to bring in 5,000 visas, there’s obviously a problem,” he said.