The Prime Minister said he is making preparations to help the UK cope ‘through to Christmas and beyond’
Britain’s supply chaos could last beyond Christmas, Boris Johnson has warned despite the fuel crisis starting to ease.
The Prime Minister revealed he is making preparations for the UK to cope “through to Christmas and beyond” with the threat of empty shelves.
Last night the Tory leader said “we now are starting to see the situation improve” with fuel and told motorists to “go about their business”.
But there is still a chronic shortage of HGV drivers, which industry chiefs believe will cause on-and-off shortages of goods in the long term.
Mr Johnson admitted: “What we want to do is to make sure we have all the preparations needed to get through to Christmas and beyond, not just in supply for petrol stations but all parts of the supply chain.”
It came as industry chiefs told The Times it could take the fuel industry a month to recover fully after a spate of panic-buying drained pumps.
The newspaper reported the average level of fuel in petrol stations had stabilised at around 20%, compared to the usual 43%.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said this morning: “The last few days have been difficult, we’ve seen large queues, but I think the situation is stabilising.
“We’re getting petrol into the forecourts… I think we’re going to see our way through this.”
The Government announced it would be issuing 5,000 temporary visas to foreign lorry drivers – but Labour called for far more.
“The decisions were made in relation to the Brexit deal that does make it unattractive to come to Britain,” he said.
“Often drivers are going back… because we’re no longer part of a customs union.”
A decision to put 150 military drivers on standby has been formally approved, meaning they can begin training in case they are required.
A further 150 drivers’ mates are also ready to help out as part of the military effort.
“They’re still on standby but can now start training now it’s approved,” a Government source said.
They will be held in a “state of readiness” and could deployed “in the coming days” if needed, sources said.
The head of a fuel supplier predicted the UK is over the worst of the shortage at petrol pumps.
James Spencer, managing director at Portland Fuel, told the BBC: “I would say logically the worst is behind us. The original crisis – if you want to call it that – was caused by 25 to 30 petrol stations closing down near the south coast.
“It was never a particularly major crisis in the first place, obviously then there was the panic buying, sales at forecourts went up by 500% over the weekend.
“Lot of people have filled up their tanks now, so you might actually see a dip in demand and the replenishment of fuel at petrol stations is a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week job, so as we speak the petrol stations are being replenished.
“To a certain extent that hasn’t been helped by all the queues at the petrol stations because all of the tankers have not been able to get in.”
He added: “I would probably have to say there is a minor supply problem which is related to a shortage in tanker drivers. The shortage of tanker drivers is nothing like as acute as the shortage of general haulage drivers.”