finance

Fuel shortages – live: Shapps admits Brexit a ‘factor’ in petrol crisis as PM urged to end panic-buying



UK fuel crisis ‘direct consequence’ of Brexit, says Michel Barnier

Grant Shapps has acknowledged for the first time since supply issues began that Brexit payed a part in Britain’s fuel crisis, which is currently causing chaos at petrol stations across the UK.

The transport secretary said on Tuesday that the primary cause of the fuel shortages had been the cancellation of HGV driver testing last year due to the pandemic. However, Mr Shapps added: “Brexit I hear mentioned a lot, and it no doubt will have been a factor.”

It comes just one week after he insisted that critics were “wrong” to blame Brexit for the drastic shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers and resultant empty supermarket shelves.

Earlier, the EU’s Michel Barnier spoke out to say Britain’s decision to leave the single market, and rebuild non-tariff barriers between the bloc and the UK as a result, meant the issues it was experiencing were “a direct and mechanical consequence of Brexit”.

Meanwhile, Mike Granatt, the ex-head of the civil contingencies secretariat, and who managed the fuel crisis of 2000, told the BBC Boris Johnson should stop “hiding away” and tell the British public to refrain from panic-buying petrol. “It’s called leadership,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme, before comparing Mr Johnson’s handling of the fuel crisis with that of Tony Blair’s 21 years ago.

Follow our live coverage on the situation below

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Watch: Headteacher says school bus cancelled due to fuel crisis

Headteacher says school bus cancelled two days in row amid fuel crisis

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 14:30

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‘People will die’ unless medical staff prioritised for petrol – Labour

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth has said health and care workers should be given priority at petrol pumps to prevent “people losing their lives”.

The Labour MP was asked by BBC Radio 4’s World at One if fuel should be reserved for doctors, nurses and carers.

He said: “Yes, and we are facing a crisis, because if doctors and nurses, midwives, if care assistants cannot get to the bedsides of their patients, then people will be left stranded, people will be left in the most desperate of circumstances. Some people could end up losing their lives, that’s how serious this is.”

Our political editor Andrew Woodcock reports;

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 14:21

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Brexit: Sign up to The Independent’s virtual event exploring the hidden costs of leaving the EU

The Independent is hosting a virtual event on 6 October, hosted by our chief political commentator John Rentoul, during which an expert panel will explore the pros and cons that the reality of Brexit presents and what the future holds for a UK divorced from the EU.

  • Emily Carver, the Institute of Economic Affairs’ Head of Media, and who as previously policy adviser to a Conservative MP.
  • Jonathan Portes, Professor of Economics and Public Policy at the School of Politics & Economics of King’s College, London
  • Anna Isaac, The Independent’s economics editor

To sign up, click the article link below:

Joe Middleton28 September 2021 13:55

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Teachers should have priority access to fuel – NASUWT

Teachers should have priority access to fuel amid supply issues or risk further disruption to children’s education, a teaching union has warned.

Dr Patrick Roach, general secretary of the NASUWT teachers’ union, called on ministers to take action to ensure teachers and support staff can get into work and schools and colleges can remain open.

He warned fuel shortages are expected to cause “serious difficulties” for education provision.

Dr Roach said: “For many teachers, the use of public transport is simply not an option, with many schools in areas that are not easily accessible other than by using private vehicles.

“The Government must urgently consider making teachers a priority group for access to locally available petrol and diesel fuel supplies.

“Without such intervention, many teachers will struggle to get to their places of work on time, adding to the daily uncertainty and disruption faced by children and young people.”

The Government has continued to face calls to give priority access to fuel supplies to healthcare staff and other essential workers.

Joe Middleton28 September 2021 13:47

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Labour expects Boris Johnson to suspend Northern Ireland Protocol to distract from fuel crisis

Labour is braced for Boris Johnson to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol at next week’s Tory conference, to milk the “drama” and distract attention from the fuel crisis.

Jenny Chapman, the party’s Brexit spokeswoman, revealed she anticipates Article 16 of the treaty to be invoked within days – triggering a fresh upheaval in EU-UK relations, writes The Independent’s deputy political editor Rob Merrick.

The government has continued to threaten the move – despite experts warning it offers no escape from the post-Brexit trade barriers – after Brussels rejected rewriting the Protocol.

Joe Middleton28 September 2021 13:37

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Labour MP reacts to Shapps Brexit admission

Labour MP Neil Coyle is unimpressed with Grant Shapps admission today that Brexit could have played a part in Britain’s ongoing fuel crisis.

In his tweet Mr Coyle references a comment made by Mr Shapps last week that Britain being out of the EU had helped the country resolve the driver shortage.

He said on Twitter: “So Shapps says Brexit contributed to a problem but being out of the EU meant GB could fix a situation that wouldn’t have occurred if we’d stayed in the single market… Dimmer than a 1 watt lightbulb.”

Joe Middleton28 September 2021 13:26

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Drivers blame myriad of factors for fuel crisis

Frustrated drivers waiting for fuel in south-west London have today blamed the Government, the media and each other for the ongoing chaos on forecourts.

John Lunn, 46, a carpenter from Wrotham in Kent, said the public had not “learned our lessons” from the Covid-19 panic-buying crisis.

“I was expecting the worst, we drove past at least 10 garages on the way here,” he told the PA news agency, speaking in a queue at a petrol station in Wandsworth.

“It’s utter madness really, I’m not being funny, but we didn’t learn our lessons from toilet rolls and pasta.

“After everything that’s gone on with buying food and not necessarily needing it, we’re now doing it with fuel.

“They mention there could be a shortage on the news and people have gone mad. If they hadn’t mentioned it, people would have gone about their day filling up as normal, it wouldn’t have happened.”

Joe Middleton28 September 2021 13:15

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Brexit has been a ‘factor’ in fuel crisis, Shapps admits

Transport secretary Grant Shapps has admitted that Brexit has been a “factor” behind the fuel crisis – despite his previous claims the UK’s exit from the EU had helped the country adjust to supply chain problems.

Mr Shapps insisted only last week that cynics were “wrong” to blame Brexit for the drastic shortage of heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers causing empty supermarket shelves and the closure of petrol stations.

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 12:56

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Watch: Drivers queue for petrol in Birmingham

Drivers queue for petrol in Birmingham amid continuing disruption

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 12:20

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Shapps admits Brexit is ‘factor’ in fuel crisis

After repeatedly shifting blame for the fuel crisis onto panic buyers, and away from Brexit, Grant Shapps appears to have admitted that complications from the divorce deal likely played some part in ongoing issues.

“Brexit I hear mentioned a lot and it no doubt will have been a factor,” he said.

However, the transport secretary stressed the primary cause of shortages had been the cancellation of HGV driver testing last year due to the pandemic.

“[Leaving the EU] has actually helped us to change rules to be able to test more drivers more quickly,” he claimed. “So, it has actually worked in both ways.”

Sam Hancock28 September 2021 12:09



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