The UK is facing fuel shortages and in spite of placatory words and excuses from the authorities, tensions are rising. Confrontations, sometimes violent, have taken place on the forecourts of petrol stations. BP (British Petroleum) says a third of its pumps have run dry of popular grades. The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps blames the shortage on HGV drivers: the fuel cannot be delivered to the pumps quickly enough. There is a shortage of some 100,000 drivers across the UK.
The Road Hauliers Association blames an ageing workforce, with drivers taking retirement before the younger drivers are qualified. Indeed, some 40,000 HGV tests have been cancelled during the continuing Covid-19 pandemic. Three weeks ago, the Confederation of British Industry warned that the UK must relax its new rules and make it easier for EU drivers to work on British roads to stem the supply shortfall.
Brexit is being blamed by many for the current situation. And it’s not just petrol. Supermarkets, too, are being affected and energy bills are soaring. The Financial Times has urged Boris Johnson to use his own franglais term and “prenez un grip”: get a grip, as his reshuffled cabinet is less and less seen to be “taking back control”.