EXASPERATED motorists faced more chaos at petrol pumps today as ministers’ pleas not to panic buy fell on deaf ears.
Cops were forced to man forecourts following days of nightmare queues and frayed tempers that boiled over into fistfights for scarce supplies.
Drivers let loose on the Government for telling them the crisis was improving – as they sat in huge traffic jams this morning.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said just 27 per cent of forecourts are still running on empty, down from 60 per cent last weekend.
Cabinet Minister Simon Clarke said this morning: “We understand why people are unnerved by what they’ve seen at petrol stations, but if people just shop normally this will very quickly correct itself.”
But major cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham appear to still be battling massive queues for petrol.
Footage on social media of an army tanker rumbling along a busy motorway sparked more concern the problem was getting worse.
The Ministry of Defence said no troops have yet been deployed to drive fuel trucks and if they do it will be in civilian – not military – vehicles.
Mr Clarke, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, confirmed 150 soldiers are on standby to drive tankers are yet to be sent behind the wheel.
He said: “The army is on standby to help support the commercial operations and, of course, we’ve seen some changes, including, notably, allowing some MoD driving instructors to help boost the number of tankers.
“This is designed to help buttress the commercial operation which is driving down the pressures that we’ve seen on forecourts.”
Begging Brits not to panic buy, he added: “We understand why people are unnerved by what they’ve seen at petrol stations, but if people just shop normally this will very quickly correct itself.”
Meanwhile he Government was blasted for sending a memo to local councils urging them not to use the word “panic” during the crisis.
The document seen by the BBC suggests the phrase could catch fire and cause even more carnage.
Phélim Mac Cafferty, the Green Party leader of Brighton and Hove City Council, said: “Instead of guidance to help us, help our communities navigate the fuel crisis, we have been given platitudes.
“This is beyond not good enough. It’s a disgrace.”
Motorists also piled in on social media, with one raging: “Absolute bulls**t to say the fuel crisis is over. One station closed, two gridlocked with queues.”
Another said: “Being told there is petrol when I’ve been to five petrol stations and they’ve had none is literally gaslighting.”
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