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Boris Johnson should recall parliament in order to “get a grip” of the fuel crisis, Labour has said.
Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, said the prime minister should be taking “emergency action” today to deal with the problem – including bringing MPs back to Westminster early.
Parliament is in recess as political parties hold their annual conferences – with the Conservative gathering due to begin this weekend and run until Wednesday.
It follows a warning by the Petrol Retailers Association that filling stations were running out of fuel faster than they could be resupplied, with one in four forecourts having run dry.
Policing minister Kit Malthouse told BBC Radio 4′s Today programme it could be “week or so” before a “return to normality”.
“Obviously there are only so many tankers that can be used to get this fuel around. They are trying their best to get around as fast as possible,” he said.
Earlier this week the prime minister ruled out granting priority access to fuel to healthcare staff on the grounds that it was unnecessary as the situation was “stabilising”.
The government is hoping to attract 5,000 HGV drivers from abroad to cope with the crisis.
It began after reports that a shortage of tanker drivers had led a number of BP stations to close, which triggered a wave of panic buying that has yet to fully subside.
Starmer, who wrapped up Labour’s conference earlier this week, said: “The prime minister needs to get a grip.
“We’re going to see this driver shortage problem coming back again in different sectors.
“And I don’t want people in this country to have another Christmas ruined by this prime minister’s lack of planning.
“By the government’s own admission, their scheme won’t be up and running for weeks with the first HGV drivers not on the roads until November. This simply isn’t good enough.
“Every day wasted is prolonging this crisis. the Government has been talking about issuing visas but still hasn’t done anything. Meanwhile our essential workers are struggling to get to work and families face a cost of living crisis.
He added: “The prime minister should be taking emergency action today but yet again he’s failed to grasp the seriousness of the crisis. If it needs legislation, then let’s recall parliament to get these emergency measures through urgently.”