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Motorists followed truck carrying mortar believing it was a fuel tanker

A convoy of twenty cars tailed a tanker for miles because they believed it was carrying petrol or diesel – only to find it was full of cement.

The drivers followed the 44-tonne HGV during its 70-mile trip from Bilston, Wolverhampton, to Overstone, Northamptonshire.

But they were left red faced when it pulled up at a building site, with one brazenly blasting the trucker for not telling them he was not carrying fuel.

The latest desperate attempt to access gas comes as military drivers prepare to be deployed to deliver to forecourts from Monday.

Almost 200 squaddies, including 100 drivers, were training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the crisis at the pumps.

Meanwhile the Government said a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 foreign haulage drivers – due to expire on December 24 – will be extended to the end of February.

Opposition parties raised the prospect of a parliamentary recall to address wider labour shortages and supply chain disruption.

Sir Keir Starmer said the temporary visa scheme would not be up and running ‘for weeks’ and added the PM should recall Parliament to rush through legislation.

Elsewhere in the crisis today:

  • Opportunistic petrol stations were today charging nearly £3 a litre for fuel amid warnings costs could rise even further next week;
  • The Prime Minister insisted there will be no ‘uncontrolled immigration’ to solve the HGV crisis, as he tried to cool fears over the ongoing fuel chaos;
  • Five more small energy suppliers may be on the brink as industry regulator Ofgem chases them for £7million in missing payments;
  • An angry motorist was caught on camera threatening to hit a female driver in a fuel queue row.

A group of 20 motorists followed this tanker which was carrying building mortar to a site in Northampton from Wolverhampton in the mistaken belief it was full of petrol and diesel

Mr Anderson brought the mortar from Bilston in Wolverhampton, left, to Overstone in Northamptonshire, right

Mr Anderson brought the mortar from Bilston in Wolverhampton, left, to Overstone in Northamptonshire, right

Johnny Anderson said one of the motorists asked him why he hadn't stopped to warn them that he was not carrying fuel

Johnny Anderson said one of the motorists asked him why he hadn’t stopped to warn them that he was not carrying fuel

Johnny Anderson was driving the tanker on Thursday for Weaver Haulage and said he had a 44-tonne load.

According to the BBC, when he reached his destination, Mr Anderson noticed a line of cars pulled up behind his truck.

After jumping out of the cab, one of the cars started to beep him. Mr Anderson said he first noticed he was being followed on the A43 on his way to the building site.

He continued: ‘I didn’t notice initially but then on the dual carriageway, I noticed nobody was overtaking me and saw a string of about 20 cars behind me.

‘When I eventually turned left into a road that would take me to the site entrance, all these cars turned left with me.’

Mr Anderson said: ‘The man at the front wound down his window and asked me which petrol station I was going to.’

He said: ‘When I said I wasn’t, he asked me ”why not?” and when I said I wasn’t carrying petrol he actually said ”you could have stopped and told us you weren’t a petrol tanker”.

He added: ‘I couldn’t believe it… I just went full McEnroe and said ‘You cannot be serious!’

One of the motorists then asked Mr Anderson if he had any idea where the nearest filling station was.

Mr Anderson said although he was not carrying fuel – clearly indicated by the lack of a dangerous substance sticker on his truck – it was unwise to follow petrol lorries.

He added: ‘My cargo isn’t dangerous but if they are following a petrol tanker, their training is to call the police if they think they’re being followed.

‘People need to stop and think… driving a tanker, no matter what the product, is quite a pressurised job, so following them puts extra pressure on drivers already under pressure without having to worry about absolute morons.’

Staff were this morning directing the queues as the panic buying continues amid Britain's ongoing fuel crisis

Staff were this morning directing the queues as the panic buying continues amid Britain’s ongoing fuel crisis

Motorists followed truck carrying mortar believing it was a fuel tanker

To help ease the crisis at the pumps, military drivers will be deployed to deliver fuel to forecourts from Monday as the crisis at the pumps continues.

Almost 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, have been training at haulier sites and will start deliveries to help relieve the situation at petrol stations.

The Government also said a temporary visa scheme for 5,000 foreign haulage drivers – due to expire on December 24 – will be extended to the end of February.

Opposition parties raised the prospect of a parliamentary recall to address wider labour shortages and supply chain disruption.

Sir Keir Starmer said the temporary visa scheme would not be up and running ‘for weeks’ and added the PM should recall Parliament to rush through legislation.

The SNP’s Ian Blackford said Boris Johnson ‘must immediately recall Parliament and convene cross-party talks to set out steps to effectively tackle the Brexit crisis’.

He added: ‘The severe labour shortages, soaring costs, empty supermarket shelves, ongoing fuel crisis and trading barriers are all inflicting serious and lasting harm.’

Nearly 200 military drivers are being deployed to the worst-hit areas, Downing Street confirmed. Pictured: Military personnel seen at the BP Oil plant in Hemel Hempstead Herts

Nearly 200 military drivers are being deployed to the worst-hit areas, Downing Street confirmed. Pictured: Military personnel seen at the BP Oil plant in Hemel Hempstead Herts

In an announcement on Friday evening, the Government said 300 fuel tanker drivers would be able to come to the UK from overseas ‘immediately’ under a bespoke temporary visa which will last until March.

Some 4,700 other visas intended for foreign food haulage drivers will be extended beyond the initially announced three months and will last from late October to the end of February.

A total of 5,500 poultry workers will also be allowed in to help keep supermarket shelves stocked with turkeys before Christmas.

The Government has said these workers, who can arrive from late October, will be able to stay up to December 31 under the temporary visa scheme.

But the Government added the visas will not be a long-term solution and it wants employers to invest in the domestic workforce instead of relying on overseas labour.

It said it is also working with the industry to find long-term solutions to the shortage of HGV drivers and to encourage more people to enter the logistics sector by improving pay and conditions.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said the fuel situation is ‘stabilising’ in most parts of the country and the military is being deployed as a ‘precaution’.

He told Sky News on Saturday morning: ‘I think it is right that as a precaution that the Government has asked the military to help. I think that is the right measure to take to make sure that people have all the confidence that they need.

‘I think that will further stabilise the situation and give more confidence.’

Petrol nozzles are covered at an Esso filling station in Wimbledon, South West London as the fuel supply crisis continues

Petrol nozzles are covered at an Esso filling station in Wimbledon, South West London as the fuel supply crisis continues

No fuel signs are placed outside the forecourt of an Esso filling station in Wimbledon, South West London as the fuel supply crisis continues

No fuel signs are placed outside the forecourt of an Esso filling station in Wimbledon, South West London as the fuel supply crisis continues

'No Fuel' signage is displayed at a closed filling station in Streatham Hill, south London, on Saturday morning

‘No Fuel’ signage is displayed at a closed filling station in Streatham Hill, south London, on Saturday morning

But the chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association said fuel shortages are getting worse in some parts of the country.

Brian Madderson said it remains a ‘really big problem’ in London and the South East.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘In London and the South East and possibly parts of eastern England, if anything it had got worse.’

Mr Madderson welcomed the announcement that military drivers are to be deployed from Monday, but warned it will have a limited impact.

‘This isn’t going to be the major panacea,’ he said. ‘It’s a large help but in terms of the volume, they are not going to be able to carry that much.

‘We do need a prioritisation of deliveries to filling stations – particularly the independent ones which are the neighbourhood retail sites – in London and the South East starting immediately.’

He said rising world oil prices mean motorists should expect higher prices at the pumps when filling stations are resupplied.

‘Expect anything from 1, 2 or even 3p a litre increases at the pump. This is not profiteering. This is genuine wholesale price increases causes by global factors.’

An aerial shot shows the extent of the queues for fuel this morning at a Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire

An aerial shot shows the extent of the queues for fuel this morning at a Tesco petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire

Huge queues again formed this morning at a petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire, amid fears the crisis is getting worse in the south east

Huge queues again formed this morning at a petrol station in Ely, Cambridgeshire, amid fears the crisis is getting worse in the south east

The Government has said there is no national fuel shortage, but Chancellor Rishi Sunak told the Daily Mail there is global disruption to supply chains in other industries.

He told the paper: ‘These shortages are very real. We’re seeing real disruptions in supply chains in different sectors, not just here but around the world.

‘We are determined to do what we can to try to mitigate as much of this as we can.

‘As you can imagine there’s an enormous amount of focus on this from the Government because we know how important this is. My kids will be very upset with me if there isn’t a proper Christmas.’

The Financial Times reported millions of British Christmas dinners will be saved by turkeys being imported, after the chief executive of the British Poultry Council, Richard Griffiths, told the paper the country’s big producers had reduced consumption by about a fifth this year because Brexit had cut off their supply of cheap labour.

A turkey farmer told the paper imported birds are likely to come from France and Poland.

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