Ambulance crashes into car waiting for fuel – as MORE petrol stations close

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain’s fuel crisis.

Footage taken last night in Bromley, Greater London, shows cars gridlocked on a road near a Shell petrol station.

An ambulance moves down the road trying to cross but is unable to bypass the packed lines of traffic.

In a rush to the emergency, the ambulance hit the back of a stationary car and had to stop and exchange details with the driver before it could continue its journey. 

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel. 

As the developing fuel crisis unfolds, it was today revealed:

  • That the government plan to fast-track visas for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers;
  • However the move was criticised by industry experts, who said it was like ‘throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire;
  • Meanwhile Keir Starmer called for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be given the green light to come to the UK to solve HGV shortage after the Government unveils plans to grant 5,000 temporary visas;  
  • Boris Johnson, meanwhile, insisted on a pay rise for all truckers and will send a million of them morale-booster letters as he love-bombs HGV drivers to try and save Christmas; 
  • Ministers also pointed the finger at ex-BBC man and diehard Remainer who ‘leaked remarks made by a BP executive at a private Government meeting’;
  • The BBC also came under fire for ‘pretending driver crisis is all about Brexit’ and ignoring the fact shortages have affected countries throughout the world;
  • Experts warned there will be much less choice in supermarkets as bosses prepare for months of shortages that will leave gaps on shelves;
  • And, in a further blow, it was revealed Britain’s second biggest oil refinery Stanlow, was holding crisis talks with HMRC over a £223m VAT bill.







An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain's fuel crisis

An ambulance with its siren blaring was held up by huge queues of traffic rushing to buy petrol amid mass panic at the pumps due to Britain’s fuel crisis

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

It comes as police have also jumped ahead of queues of traffic at a Hackney petrol station to avoid running out of fuel

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill'

Officers said: 'We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can't get to the depot in Romford to refill'

Officers said: ‘We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can’t get to the depot in Romford to refill’

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage

Officers said: ‘We had to jump the queue, our cars are empty and we can’t get to the depot in Romford to refill.’ 

More petrol stations are being forced to close after running out of fuel as Britons continue to panic buy amid fears of a shortage.  

One motorist said: ‘I have been driving around Croydon, Bromley, Westerham, Oxted and Godstone for two hours and passed over twenty garages.

‘Eighteen were completely shut and two had queues so long, you couldn’t even join them.’ 

London Ambulance Service told MailOnline: ‘We can confirm that one of our ambulances was involved in a collision with another vehicle on Bromley Hill at approximately 6.55pm on 25 September while on a blue light call to a patient.

‘As a result of the incident, the ambulance was out of service for a short amount of time and a different ambulance crew attended the patient.’

It comes as Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been ‘manufactured’ as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages. 

The Transport Secretary said ‘there is plenty of fuel’ to go around as he urged motorists to be ‘sensible’ and to ‘fill up when you normally would’. 

He said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country ‘will come to an end’ because soon ‘everyone’s cars will be more or less filled up’. 

Mr Shapps said the chaos is a ‘manufactured situation’ in comments likely to spark fury among retailers and transport bosses. 

It came as experts warned panic buying ‘is going to get worse before it gets better’ as the nation faces a ‘catastrophic situation’.  








Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been 'manufactured' as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

Grant Shapps today claimed the fuel crisis has been ‘manufactured’ as he accused haulage firms of sparking panic buying after they warned of HGV driver shortages

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'

The Transport Secretary said 'there is plenty of fuel' to go around as he urged motorists to be 'sensible' and to 'fill up when you normally would'

The Transport Secretary said ‘there is plenty of fuel’ to go around as he urged motorists to be ‘sensible’ and to ‘fill up when you normally would’

Experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'

Experts warned panic buying 'is going to get worse before it gets better' as the nation faces a 'catastrophic situation'

Experts warned panic buying ‘is going to get worse before it gets better’ as the nation faces a ‘catastrophic situation’

Keir Starmer calls for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be given the green light to come to the UK to solve HGV shortage after the Government unveils plans to grant 5,000 temporary visas

Sir Keir Starmer today called for 100,000 foreign lorry drivers to be granted visas to come to the UK as he blasted the Government’s handling of the fuel crisis. 

Ministers have announced a temporary visa scheme that will see 5,000 HGV drivers allowed to take up employment in the UK until Christmas Eve.

But Sir Keir said ‘we are going to have to bring in more drivers and more visas’ amid reports that the shortfall of drivers is north of 90,000. 

The Labour leader said that ‘for a long time we have known there is a problem’ and it was ‘predicted’ the situation would get worse after Brexit

He said the Government was guilty of a ‘complete lack of planning’ as he suggested he would also grant permission for EU workers to come to the UK to take jobs in other industries struggling with recruitment like hospitality and food processing. 

The shortage of HGV drivers has hit the nation’s fuel network while retailers have warned the Government that it has just 10 days to save Christmas from ‘significant disruption’ amid pressure on the food supply chain.

Ministers want firms to hire and train British workers to fill HGV vacancies, with the 5,000 visas viewed as a short term fix. 

But Sir Keir said the Government must go much further to avoid prolonged chaos this winter. 

He said: ‘On the HGV situation, we are going to have to bring in more drivers and more visas.

‘I am astonished that the Government, knowing the situation is not acting today.

‘The Prime Minister needs to say today what he is going to do. There are 100,000 vacancies for drivers.’  

Sir Keir continued: ‘For a long time we have known there is a problem with HGV drivers, that has been there for years.

‘But we knew in particular that when we exited the EU there would be a need for a back up plan to deal with the situation and there is no plan from the Government on this, and here we are, 100,000 needed and the Government is talking about 5,000 visas.’

Asked directly if he would bring in 100,000 foreign drivers if he was prime minister, Sir Keir said: ‘We are going to have to do that. We have to issue enough visas to cover the number of drivers that we need.’

He added: ‘If there is 100,000 vacancies for drivers in this country and the Government is saying we are going to bring in 5,000 visas, there is an obvious problem.

‘100,000 is, I think Norwich is 140,000. It is the size of a small city and the Government’s response is far, far too small.

‘Now, that is not an ideal response, it is a short term response. In the long term we need conditions to be improved, we need training, of course we do. 

‘But the Government has known that for years and we have got a situation now where we have got an absolute crisis in this country through a lack of planning on behalf of the Government.’

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There is an estimated shortfall of 90,000 HGV drivers in the UK freight sector. 

The Government has announced plans to offer 5,000 three-month visas to foreign lorry drivers in a short term bid to ease pressure on supply chains. 

The announcement came after scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations as the shortage of fuel tanker drivers forced some retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales. 

The British Retail Consortium and the British Chambers of Commerce criticised the scope of the measures set out by the Government which were seen by some as a step back from Boris Johnson’s stated ambition to create a high-wage, high-skilled post-Brexit economy.

Mr Shapps today insisted there is ‘plenty’ of petrol as he urged motorists to refrain from panic buying. 

He told Sky News there had been some ‘pretty irresponsible briefing’ by one of the road haulage associations ‘which has helped spark a crisis’.     

He said: ‘I do not believe… that the long term solution to Britain’s shortages of HGV drivers is to say the only choice we have is to import the European drivers, under cut British salaries and not skill up people to do the job here in the United Kingdom so that is absolutely right.

‘I also recognise and am completely pragmatic about this, that we need to ensure that people are reassured now that this rather sort of manufactured situation has been created because as I say there is enough petrol in the country, it is if everyone goes and buys it on the same day…’

Presenter Trevor Phillips interrupted and said: ‘Hang on. When you say this was a manufactured situation, manufactured by whom? How?’

Mr Shapps replied: ‘Well, as I say, there was a meeting that took place about 10 days ago, a private meeting in which one of the haulage associations decided to leak the details to the media and that has created, as we have seen, quite a large degree of concern, people naturally react to those things.

‘The good news is, as I say, there is plenty of fuel. The bad news is if everyone carries on buying it when they don’t need it then you would continue to have queues.

‘Sooner or later everyone’s cars will be more or less filled up and there won’t be anywhere else to put fuel – it is not like the toilet roll crisis at the beginning of the pandemic where people could stockpile it. It is very difficult to do that with fuel and so it will come to an end.

‘But we just appeal to people to be sensible, fill up when you normally would.’

Retail bosses fear the panic buying will continue as motorists rush to the pumps. 

Brian Madderson, chairman of the Petrol Retailers Association, told Sky News that the ‘situation is going to get worse before it gets better’ as he described the panic buying as a ‘catastrophic situation’. 

It came amid reports that one of the UK’s main oil refineries is on the brink of collapse. 

The Times reported that the Stanlow oil refinery in Ellesmere Port, responsible for about one sixth of the UK’s road fuel, is in talks with the Government. 

The Government’s new plans will see 5,000 temporary visas made available for foreign HGV drivers and 5,500 for poultry workers. 

Retailers have previously warned the Government that it had just 10 days to save Christmas from ‘significant disruption’ due to the shortfall of HGV drivers. 

British Chambers of Commerce president Baroness McGregor-Smith said consumers and businesses faced ‘another less than happy Christmas’ due to the visa offer being ‘insufficient’.

The Conservative peer said: ‘Even if these short-term opportunities attract the maximum amount of people allowed under the scheme, it will not be enough to address the scale of the problem that has now developed in our supply chains. This announcement is the equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire.’ 

Mr Shapps said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country 'will come to an end' because soon 'everyone's cars will be more or less filled up'.

Mr Shapps said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country 'will come to an end' because soon 'everyone's cars will be more or less filled up'.

Mr Shapps said the rush to forecourts which has seen lengthy queues at stations across the country ‘will come to an end’ because soon ‘everyone’s cars will be more or less filled up’.

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

Andrew Opie, a director at the British Retail Consortium, said the limit of 5,000 HGV visas would do ‘little to alleviate the current shortfall’ and called for visas to be extended to ‘all sectors of the retail industry’.

He added: ‘Supermarkets alone have estimated they need at least 15,000 HGV drivers for their businesses to be able to operate at full capacity ahead of Christmas and avoid disruption or availability issues.’ 

The relaxation of immigration rules was welcomed by other industry groups, however, with Food and Drink Federation chief Ian Wright calling the measures ‘pragmatic’, while Logistics UK said it showed Government had listened to hauliers’ concerns.

Richard Walker, managing director at Iceland supermarket, called the announcement ‘critical’ and pushed for shop staff and other key workers to be fast-tracked past petrol pump queues.

The supermarket boss said: ‘Until this eases, key workers including food retail workers need to be prioritised at the pumps so that we can keep hospitals operating and food shops open, and the nation safe and fed.’

As well as the visa changes, the Department for Transport (DfT) said it planned to train 4,000 more lorry drivers through both a £10million investment in skills camps and established adult education budgets, with some of those studying for HGV licences eligible to have their courses paid for by the state.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) will be stepping in to provide examiners for lorry driving tests as ministers look to steadily increase the size of the workforce.

Officials said the loan of MoD examiners to work alongside Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees would help put on ‘thousands of extra tests’ over the next 12 weeks.

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a global shortage of lorry drivers, although there have been long-term issues in the UK with vacancy numbers amid an ageing workforce, low wages and poor truck stop conditions.

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

In a drive to encourage people to return to the industry, nearly one million letters will be landing on the doormats of people with HGV licences in the coming days enticing them to give the job another go.

The letter will set out the steps the haulage sector is taking to improve industry conditions, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours, according to the DfT.

Officials said the Government was focused on raising pay and improving working conditions and diversity of the workforce, rather than relying on cheap foreign workers to fill vacancies in the long run.

The DfT said it recognised that importing foreign labour ‘will not be the long term solution’ to the problem and that it wanted to see investment poured into establishing a robust domestic workforce.

Government plan to fast-track visas for 5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers is like ‘throwing a thimble of water on a BONFIRE’: Industry experts say bid to ease Christmas supply crisis ‘barely scratches the surface’

More than 10,000 temporary foreign visas will be fast-tracked by the Government as ministers rush to solve the supply chain crisis that’s threatening Christmas.

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve.

The move comes amid a nationwide panic-buying spree at petrol stations and growing fear inside Downing Street that supermarket shelves could remain barren until Christmas.   

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would ‘ensure preparations remain on track’ for the festive season.

But the Road Haulage Association warned the announcement ‘barely scratches the surface’, while the British Chambers of Commerce said the measures were the equivalent of ‘throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire’.

Retailers had warned the Government that it had just 10 days to save Christmas from ‘significant disruption’ due to a shortfall of about 90,000 drivers in the freight sector.

It comes as thousands of desperate drivers ignored Government pleas for calm as they jammed roads – with fears mounting over the impact of lasting fuel shortages on the economy. 

Furious motorists were seen fighting on Saturday as the nationwide rush for fuel continued amid calls for calm from the Government because less than 100 petrol stations were empty.

Shocking footage showed panic buyers punch and kick at each other during a violent brawl at an Esso petrol forecourt in Sidlesham, Chicester, as roads were left gridlocked and police had to be called in to marshal drivers.

Two men were seen grappling before throwing punches at one another, while another enraged motorist launched a flying kick at another man as the scramble for fuel turned violent in the sleepy West Sussex village.

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

5,000 HGV drivers and 5,500 poultry workers will be given extraordinary three-month visas allowing them to work in the UK until Christmas Eve

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (above) said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would 'ensure preparations remain on track' for the festive season

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (above) said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would 'ensure preparations remain on track' for the festive season

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (above) said the changes, with the visas available from next month, would ‘ensure preparations remain on track’ for the festive season

The shortage of HGV drivers has long threatened to wreak havoc this winter, and it has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid, as well as foreign drivers returning home amid the pandemic and Brexit. 

Are you a company boss telling staff to work from home on Monday due to employees not being able to get fuel? 

Or has your boss told you to work from home due to you not being able to get hold of fuel?

Email: james.robinson@mailonline.co.uk 

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Industry groups the Food and Drink Federation and Logistics UK both welcomed the visa changes, with federation chief Ian Wright calling the measures ‘pragmatic’.

But British Chamber of Commerce president Baroness McGregor-Smith said the changes were the ‘equivalent of throwing a thimble of water on a bonfire’, and that  the 5,000 new visas may be too little, too late to halt the chaos.    

Meanwhile, Marc Fels, director of the HGV Recruitment Centre, told BBC Breakfast the move was ‘too little, too late’.

He said: ‘Every additional driver that is coming into the sector at the moment is going to be of benefit.

‘But I feel this is too little, because the numbers coming in, 5,000, is not going to make a very large dent on the 90,000-100,000 that we are perceived to be short.

‘And too late because we have been understanding these problems have been coming as early as April this year, so we are moving into October and only now are the Government coming up with these solutions when this has been an issue since April.’

The announcement about immigration rules being relaxed to ease supply pressures comes amid scenes of lengthy queues at petrol stations after a shortage of specialised tanker drivers forced some fuel retailers to shut their pumps and ration sales.

As well as the short-term measure of opening up to foreign workers, the Ministry of Defence is also stepping in to provide examiners to help clear a backlog of drivers desperately trying to get their licences. 

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

A Shell garage employee holds a sign on the side of the road informing traffic that they do not have unleaded petrol

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Pictured: Customers queuing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London on Saturday

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Pictured: Customers queuing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London on Saturday

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Pictured: Customers queuing in their cars to access an Asda petrol station in east London on Saturday

HGV boss is accused of triggering petrol pump crisis 

A former BBC boss opposed to Brexit has been accused of triggering the petrol pump crisis.

Ministers say Rod McKenzie sparked the nationwide panic-buying frenzy by selectively leaking remarks made by a BP executive at a private Government meeting. Senior sources suggested he ‘weaponised’ the comments to deflect blame for the UK’s supply chaos.

Mr McKenzie, who ran BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat for more than two decades before joining the Road Haulage Association, last night denied the claim.

As managing director of policy for the RHA, he has blamed post-Brexit immigration restrictions for the crisis in the industry and has been leading calls for the Government to lift visa restrictions to allow more foreign drivers into the country.

The fuel crisis began to snowball last week after comments made by Hanna Hofer, head of BP’s retail business, at a Cabinet Office meeting were leaked. On September 16, Ms Hofer told civil servants, hauliers and other industry figures that the company had ‘two-thirds of normal forecourt stock levels’.

According to a senior Government source, however, she also said the situation had been ‘going on for weeks’ and that very few forecourts had had to close.

Crucially, those additional comments – which Government insiders believe would have prevented or at least reduced the panic-buying of fuel – were not made public.

BP denied that any of its staff were behind the leak, with a spokeswoman saying it ‘would have been completely counter-productive’. 

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Officials said the loan of MoD examiners to work alongside Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) employees would help put on ‘thousands of extra tests’ over the next 12 weeks.

Meanwhile, nearly one million letters will be landing in the coming days on the doormats of people with HGV licences to encourage those who have left the industry to return.

The letter will set out the steps the haulage sector is taking to improve industry conditions, including increased wages, flexible working and fixed hours, according to the Department for Transport.

Mr Shapps said: ‘This package of measures builds on the important work we have already done to ease this global crisis in the UK, and this Government continues to do everything we can to help the haulage and food industries contend with the HGV driver shortage.

‘We are acting now but the industries must also play their part, with working conditions continuing to improve and the deserved salary increases continuing to be maintained in order for companies to retain new drivers.

‘After a very difficult 18 months, I know how important this Christmas is for all of us and that’s why we’re taking these steps at the earliest opportunity to ensure preparations remain on track.’

The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated a global shortage of lorry drivers, although there have been long-term issues in the UK with labour numbers amid an ageing workforce, low wages and poor truck stop conditions.

The DfT said it recognised that importing foreign labour ‘will not be the long term solution’ to the problem and that it wanted to see investment poured into establishing a robust domestic workforce.

Officials said the Government continued to support solving the high vacancy rate through improved testing and hiring, with better pay, working conditions and diversity.

Another long-term measure to turn the situation around will see the Department for Education plough up to £10 million into creating new ‘skills bootcamps’ to train up to 3,000 more people to become HGV drivers.

The free, intensive courses will train drivers to undertake an entry level HGV licence (Category C) or a more advanced course to operate heavier and longer lorries (Category C&E). 

A motorist lays out a half dozen fuel containers on the floor of the forecourt in Upminster to fill her boot with fuel while desperate drivers queue for hours behind

A motorist lays out a half dozen fuel containers on the floor of the forecourt in Upminster to fill her boot with fuel while desperate drivers queue for hours behind

A motorist lays out a half dozen fuel containers on the floor of the forecourt in Upminster to fill her boot with fuel while desperate drivers queue for hours behind

The problems were triggered after BP and Esso admitted on Thursday that a lack of tanker drivers was hitting deliveries (pictured, gridlock at a petrol station in Tonbridge)

The problems were triggered after BP and Esso admitted on Thursday that a lack of tanker drivers was hitting deliveries (pictured, gridlock at a petrol station in Tonbridge)

The problems were triggered after BP and Esso admitted on Thursday that a lack of tanker drivers was hitting deliveries (pictured, gridlock at a petrol station in Tonbridge)

A BP at Hampton Court says 'Sorry we're out of diesel' after frenzied buying saw stations swamped by panicked customers

A BP at Hampton Court says 'Sorry we're out of diesel' after frenzied buying saw stations swamped by panicked customers

A BP at Hampton Court says ‘Sorry we’re out of diesel’ after frenzied buying saw stations swamped by panicked customers

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid

A major shortage of HGV drivers threatens to wreak havoc this winter, and the shortage has been exacerbated by a huge backlog in HGV tests due to Covid








BBC comes under fire for ‘pretending driver crisis is all about Brexit’ 

The BBC came under fire last night for ignoring the fact that the HGV driver shortage has affected countries throughout the world.

Around 400,000 drivers are needed across mainland Europe, including shortfalls of 40,000 in Germany.

In America, there is a shortfall of around 63,000 while China needs about four million extra drivers, according to the International Road Transport Union.

Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith, who trained as an HGV driver, accused the BBC of selective reporting.

He said: ‘The BBC insists on making this about Brexit and pretending that this is a problem confined to the UK.

‘This is a Covid issue affecting not just the whole of Europe but the world. I don’t understand why they are doing this but it is deeply misleading and the kind of reporting that leads to panic buying, as we have seen.’

France has faced a shortage of around 43,000 drivers since 2019, when the shortfall in Italy was estimated to be around 15,000, according to analysts Transport Intelligence.

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Another 1,000 people are expected to be trained through courses accessed locally and funded by the Government’s adult education budget.

Those accessing medical and HGV licences through the adult budget in the 2021/22 academic year will have their qualifications paid for by the state, with the funding backdated to anyone who started one of these qualifications on or after August 1.

More DVSA examiners will also be freed up to conduct lorry driver tests via a law change to allow driving examiners at the three emergency services and the MoD to be able to conduct driving tests for one another.

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘HGV drivers keep this country running.

‘We are taking action to tackle the shortage of drivers by removing barriers to help more people to launch new well-paid careers in the industry, supporting thousands to get the training they need to be road ready.’

Environment Secretary George Eustice said: ‘We have listened to concerns from the sector and we are acting to alleviate what is a very tight labour market.’

The Government said it had already streamlined the process for new HGV drivers while increasing the number of driving tests available to allow for an extra 50,000 tests to take place per year.

Meanwhile, Grant Shapps, writing in the Mail on Sunday today, said some firms were offering more than £70,000 to encourage people to get into the HGV industry.

He wrote: ‘First, there are nearly one million people with HGV licences across the country. So we are launching a call through the media to re-recruit inactive lorry drivers all over the UK.

‘These are people who have left the industry but still hold a licence. In the next few days, letters will hit doormats throughout the land, reminding them that they can support the country during this crucial time while earning a salary never before available for expertly driving a lorry. 

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients. Pictured: A shopper looks at a meat fridge at a Lidl supermarket in Walthamstow, West London

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients. Pictured: A shopper looks at a meat fridge at a Lidl supermarket in Walthamstow, West London

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients. Pictured: A shopper looks at a meat fridge at a Lidl supermarket in Walthamstow, West London

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2. Pictured: Bottles of water and crisps at a Pret a Manger store in London

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2. Pictured: Bottles of water and crisps at a Pret a Manger store in London

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2. Pictured: Bottles of water and crisps at a Pret a Manger store in London

Forecourt fury turns violent as drivers queuing to fill up exchange blows, while elsewhere motorists fill jerry cans and BP, Esso, Shell and Texaco limit drivers to £30 each 

Furious motorists were seen fighting as the nationwide rush for fuel continued yesterday, amid calls for calm from the Government because less than 100 petrol stations are empty.

Shocking footage showed panic buyers punching and kicking at each other during a violent brawl at an Esso petrol forecourt in Sidlesham, Chicester, as roads were left gridlocked and police had to be called in to marshal drivers.

Two men were seen grappling before throwing punches at one another, while another enraged motorist launched a flying kick at another man as the scramble for fuel turned violent in the sleepy West Sussex village.

Thousands of desperate drivers ignored Government pleas for calm as they jammed roads – with fears mounting over the impact of lasting fuel shortages on the economy.

Photographs yesterday online showing drivers stocking up on fuel. Just one per cent of Britain’s petrol stations are empty, according to fuel bosses.

Some had multiple jerry cans in the boot of their cars and spent time filling each up while others queued for hours to reach the pump. Meanwhile, around 400 stations owned by the EG Group are limiting customers to £30 worth of petrol to give everyone a ‘fair chance to refuel’.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson revealed a visa U-turn for 5,000 foreign truck drivers to try to stem the shortage.

There are currently about 8,350 filling stations in the UK and less than 100 of them have been forced to close due to shortages. However, the Petrol Retailer’s Association has warned the situation could get worse before it improves.

BP said around 20 of its 1,200 petrol forecourts were closed due to a lack of available fuel, with between 50 and 100 sites affected by the loss of at least one grade of fuel.

A ‘small number’ of Tesco refilling stations have also been impacted, said Esso owner ExxonMobil, which runs the sites. 

President of the AA Edmund King reiterated on Saturday there there ‘is plenty of fuel at the source’ and no need to stock up.

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‘Next, up to 4,000 new recruits will be able to take advantage of Government funding to train as road-ready HGV drivers. The Department for Education is investing up to £10 million to create new Skills Bootcamps, offering a free, intensive course for 3,000 people, while another 1,000 will be trained through local courses funded by our Adult Education Budget. 

‘This is a fantastic opportunity to start a career in a fast-growing sector offering rising salaries.

‘The industry is rapidly improving pay and conditions, with some companies offering over £70,000 to drivers. As the sector continues to improve, now is the time for anyone who left the industry to return – and anyone looking for a fruitful career to join.’  

It comes as supermarkets are preparing for months of shortages that will leave gaps on shelves for everything from crisps and meat to toilet paper and flour.

Supply problems are expected to cause a noticeable drop in choice, casting Britain back to an era 50 years ago when most shoppers were offered just basic ingredients and a wider choice of food and household products was limited.

Sources said the impact – the result of a host of problems including a shortage of HGV drivers and a spike in demand for shipping containers worldwide as the global economy restarts after the pandemic – would be most fiercely felt on inexpensive but bulky goods such as toilet paper, pre-packed bread and chilled goods.

‘Whether it’s attracting people to work in factories, fields, food processing plants or to drive lorries – it feels like the whole food and supermarket industry is grinding to a halt,’ said one senior food industry source.

Another said the ‘systemic’ problem has already spread to products like crisps and fizzy drinks thanks also in part to a shortage of CO2.

‘We’re already anticipating there’ll be two or three types of beef joint instead of six or seven, or a much smaller range of tomatoes. 

;Toilet paper is a good example because it requires a lot of space to transport from one place to another and space in lorries is at a premium right now.

‘The aim will be to get products on to shelves but not anything like a full range of pack sizes and options – so don’t expect to match your toilet paper colour to your downstairs toilet wallpaper,’ the source said.

Supermarkets and convenience stores have been trying to hide gaps for weeks – often placing cans of alcohol or other less perishable goods in refrigerated cabinets which had previously held salads and ready-meals.

One supermarket director said: ‘This isn’t going away and it’s difficult to say right now what the solution is because there are so many factors. It’s a complete nightmare.

‘Suppliers don’t have drivers, their Eastern European workforces in processing factories went home during the pandemic or, more recently, for their summer holidays and simply haven’t come back. We are hearing these stories everywhere we go.’

Another director said firms are having to make tough decisions about where to direct lorries because of driver shortages.

Remote areas are more likely to suffer shortages as vehicles are diverted to high-demand sites where stock was likely to run out much more quickly.  

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