Echoes of Tony Blair’s Fuel Crisis in 2000 as UK Petrol Stations Run Out Due to Trucker Shortage
10:27 GMT 24.09.2021 (Updated: 13:41 GMT 01.03.2022)
Tony Blair’s Labour government was faced with a crisis in September 2000 when up to 3,000 petrol stations ran out of fuel. The crisis had been caused by farmers and lorry drivers blockading oil refineries and panic buying of petrol.
The British government has promised
to take measures to solve a chronic shortage of lorry drivers which has caused hundreds of petrol stations to shut down temporarily around the country.
The situation has echoes of the crisis which Tony Blair feared would bring down his government in September 2000.
The British economy is just emerging from the pandemic but has been buffeted by a rise in wholesale gas prices
and a shortage of truckers caused at least in part by Brexit, which has reduced the number of EU nationals working in the UK.
BP has shuttered many of its 1,200 UK petrol stations
and Esso - which is part of ExxonMobil - has also closed some of its garages temporarily because of a shortage of petrol and diesel.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was a global shortage of truckers and refused to blame Brexit.
Asked whether he would consider waiving visas for EU truckers, he told Sky News on Friday: "We'll do whatever it takes. We'll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers. We should see it smooth out fairly quickly.”
The shortage of lorry drivers has badly affected the supply chain in Britain - supermarkets have run short of goods and restaurant chains McDonald’s and Nando’s have both been affected.
The Road Haulage Association said there was a shortage of 100,000 drivers as the industry was failing to attract young people.
The RHA’s head of policy Rod McKenzie told Reuters: "It's a tough job. We the British do not help truckers in the way that Europeans and Americans do by giving them decent facilities.”
The autumn 2000 crisis was caused by a jump in the price of crude oil. It reached £23 a barrel, which led to a big jump in the cost of petrol and diesel.
Blair’s government ruled out reducing the duty charged on fuel and this led to protests by truckers and farmers, who blockaded Stanlow oil refinery in Cheshire and several others.
Panic buying by customers worsened matters and by 12 September 2000 around 3,000 petrol stations had run dry.
When the blockades were lifted, petrol supplies resumed and the Labour government went on to stay in power for another 10 years.