Military tanker drivers are prepared for deployment as panic buying dries pumps and pushes prices up.
The British Army will start delivering fuel to forecourts across the country starting Monday, as the government makes its most drastic intervention yet to try to resolve a crisis that has gripped the nation.
Almost 200 military personnel, including 100 drivers, will be deployed to distribute fuel, the government said in a statement late Friday. It’s also introducing a program to allow as many as 300 foreign tanker drivers to enter the country until the end of March.
The decision comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson plans to assuage his followers at the Conservative Party’s annual conference that the government has the situation under control. According to the Petrol Retailers Association, it will take weeks for supply to return to normal, while business confidence plunged in September partly because of the fuel crisis.
The government said more fuel is being delivered to the pumps than is being sold, and repeated that there’s no national shortage.
“If people continue to revert to their normal buying patterns, we will see smaller queues and prevent petrol stations closing,” Steve Barclay, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, said in the statement.
And in an attempt to address a broader problem with food supply and the potential shortage of Christmas turkeys, the government also said 4,700 food haulage drivers from overseas will get visas through the end of February, and 5,500 poultry workers will be able to stay until the end of the year.