Boris Johnson is reportedly set to launch ‘Operation Escalin’ this week – first conceived during the planning for a no-deal Brexit – in a desperate bid to tackle the fuel crisis and avoid a ‘Winter of Discontent’
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Hundreds of soldiers could be drafted in to deliver fuel to dry petrol stations under plans reportedly being considered by No10.
Panic buying over the weekend has left sites across the nation without fuel – prompting fears of another Winter of Discontent.
The government has downplayed any suggestions of a widespread crisis, insisting reservers are healthy.
But a shortage of lorry drivers has meant deliveries to some petrol stations have been affected – sending swathes of people into crisis mode.
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According to the Guardian, the Prime Minister will meet with senior cabinet ministers to discuss whether squaddies should be called up to drive a fleet of up to 80 tankers.
It is understood that this plan will take up to three weeks to implement, the paper said, because some of those mobilised may already be on other deployments and others could be reservists.
And while there have been regular meetings across Whitehall over the last week, there is yet to be an indication on when a final decision could be made.
It is understood ministers are monitoring data and possible new mitigations that may be needed to help with pinch points in supply.
Perceived fuel shortages have led to chaotic scenes at petrol stations, with people queuing for hours to fill up – and some even stockpiling in jerry cans.
The panic prompted ministers to suspend competition rules which stop fuel suppliers talking to each other on Sunday.
Darren Quinton/Birmingham Live)
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: “We have long-standing contingency plans in place to work with industry so that fuel supplies can be maintained and deliveries can still be made in the event of a serious disruption.
“While there has always been and continues to be plenty of fuel at refineries and terminals, we are aware that there have been some issues with supply chains.
“This is why we will enact the Downstream Oil Protocol to ensure industry can share vital information and work together more effectively to ensure disruption is minimised.”We thank HGV drivers and all forecourt staff for their tireless work during this period.”
Industry chiefs say the petrol pump chaos will last for at least another week as the Government was accused of mishandling the shortages crisis.
The shortages have already had a knock-on effect to key industries and sectors with police officers being forced to queue jump for fuel and paramedics facing delays.
And the lack of HGV drivers is also causing as many as one in five supermarket deliveries to be late or cancelled.
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Tory plans to alleviate the HGV driver shortage by issuing 5,000 temporary Visas have been already rubbished by both foreign HGV drivers and British unions.
But Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also admitted it may take years for the driver shortages situation to be fully resolved.
Petrol Retailers Association chairman Brian Madderson told the Mirror: “We think it’s going to go on for at least a further week, maybe ten days.
“The problem we’ve got is there are a finite number of tankers that can carry fuel and a finite number of drivers.
“There will be some respite because the cars of panic buyers are full…but I can’t see a quick fix.
“It’s going to take a long while to get back to normal where all forecourts have the right amount of fuel.”