Tank almost empty in Great Britain: no end in sight

London (dpa) – The first petrol stations had to close before the British government took action. Because tens of thousands of truck drivers are missing, the majority of the petrol pumps have now dried up. Doctors are already sounding the alarm that they will soon no longer be able to get to work without fuel. Temporary visas for truck drivers and other exceptions are now intended to remedy the situation, and if necessary even the military could step in. But in a hurry, all of this doesn’t help.

For days now, there have been panic buying and long queues at British petrol stations. The background to this is a huge shortage of truck drivers who actually have to bring the fuel from A to B. Because of the corona pandemic, a number of driving lessons and tests have been postponed. In addition, because of the Brexit, about 20. 000 mainly Eastern European skilled workers emigrated – but new, strict immigration rules after Brexit are now inhibiting immigration.

The crisis is so depressing to the British that even Olaf Scholz was questioned by British journalists in Berlin on Monday. The SPD chancellor candidate also sees a connection to Brexit. “We worked very hard to convince the British not to leave the Union. In the end they made a different decision, ”said Scholz when asked whether Germany could help out with truck drivers.

Visas for foreign drivers

After long and bitter resistance left The UK government agreed to provide up to 5000 visas for foreign drivers over the weekend. Boris Johnson “has had enough of the bad headlines and wants to have it sorted out,” the Financial Times quoted an insider as saying shortly before the announcement. However, the visas are clearly limited in time to the months up to Christmas. So the big question is: will anyone come at all?

Since there is also a shortage of drivers in a number of European countries, including Germany, British companies have to offer a lot in order to be an attractive employer for a few months to be. A representative from the Federation of Dutch Trade Unions, which represents truck drivers from across Europe, told the BBC on Monday: “The EU workers we are talking to are not going to be returning for short-term visas to help the UK out of the crap.” they built them themselves. ”

Economy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng wants to override the visa competition rules so that the industry can work together against the bottlenecks and organize a basic supply of petrol and diesel. That could at least remedy the acute emergency at the pump, but it is also not a solution for other industries. It is almost everyone who urgently depends on the truck drivers: supermarkets cannot fill their shelves without them, toy manufacturers fear the Christmas business and some pub chains are running out of beer. “Everything we have in Great Britain comes to us in the back of a truck,” emphasized Rod McKenzie of the Road Haulage Association.

The military should help

That Soldiers who could soon steer tankers through British roads are discussed in London’s government district, but have not yet been implemented. The military is also “not a panacea,” said Brian Madderson of the Petrol Retailers Association in a BBC interview. It is not just about driving the tanker, but also filling it – and this is not an easy task, but an activity that has to be learned.

According to the Petrol Retailers Association, the represents around 5500 independent petrol stations, two thirds of the members currently run out of fuel. The demand was up to 500 percent higher at the weekend, said association chief Madderson. 50 to 90 percent of the petrol stations are empty, the others are in danger of drying out soon.

«From logistics to hospitality, from culture to construction, I’m afraid you can now see how the government is reaping what it sown with a hard Brexit, “said the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan of the Labor Party, in Brighton on Monday. “You can’t drag on the EU and EU citizens for five years and then expect them to come back and help us out.” of fuel. All citizens just have to stop panic buying and only refuel as much as they need. Then the situation would calm down again, it was said from Downing Street.

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