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UK puts army on standby as fuel pumps run dry: What you need to know

UK puts army on standby as fuel pumps run dry/Picture courtesy: BBC

Britain on Monday put the army on standby to help with the ongoing fuel crisis as fears over tanker driver shortages led to panic buying, leaving many of the country's pumps dry.

The government says a lack of tanker drivers to deliver fuel and demand is behind the crisis. The UK is estimated to be short of more than 100,000 lorry drivers - causing problems for a range of industries in recent months.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says the sooner people return to their normal habits and stop panic buying petrol and diesel, the sooner the fuel supply emergency will start to ease, as he acknowledges Brexit as a factor in the crisis.

The government has already made a drastic U-turn on tighter post-Brexit immigration policy, offering short-term visa waivers to foreign truckers to help plug the shortfall.

Petrol prices have hit an eight-year high, the RAC says, due to a rise in the cost of wholesale fuel.

Fuel operators, including Shell, BP and Esso said there was "plenty of fuel at UK refineries" and expected demand to return to normal levels in days, easing pressure.

Britain's biggest public-sector union, Unison, said key workers, including doctors, nurses, teachers and police staff, should be given priority access rather than having to wait in line. The shortage has led to empty supermarket shelves and raised fears about deliveries of food and toys for Christmas.

Germany's weekend election winner Olaf Scholz linked the problems directly to Brexit and said low wages in the sector could make the job less appealing.

Now there are tentative signs the situation with fuel supply problems in the UK is stabilising, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps says.

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