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by our parliamentary reporter @TrinderMatt
THE Tories’ chaotic handling of Brexit has worsened the HGV driver shortage, leaving petrol pumps to run dry, Labour frontbencher David Lammy said today.
The shadow justice secretary’s damning verdict came after ministers confirmed that they are set to send in the army within days to help deliver fuel to forecourts.
Vehicles from the government’s reserve tanker fleet, driven by civilians, would provide “additional logistical capacity” to help keep the country running, the government added.
According to the Petrol Retailers Association, a quarter of petrol stations currently have no supplies, as the scourge of poverty pay and long working hours for lorry drivers combines with Covid-19 pandemic disruption to create a perfect storm.
Mr Lammy told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “Brexit is responsible for some of the problems we are seeing.
“On this fuel crisis, there are not queues to get fuel in France, in Spain, in Germany, but there are fuel queues in our own country.
“That is as the result of exiting the European Union with the deal that [Prime Minister] Boris Johnson struck.
“Why would drivers come here when they are going back without goods, when they have got to pay tariffs? They would rather be in another country in Europe.”
Concerns were also raised today about abuse on forecourts as frustrations boil over. Fights while waiting for fuel have been reported, as well as one case of a man wielding a knife, according to images shared on social media.
Petrol Retailers Association chief Gordon Balmer said: “We are extremely disappointed to hear many forecourt staff are experiencing a high level of both verbal and physical abuse, which is completely unacceptable.”
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