A possible military intervention, scenes of chaos and confusion, numerous calls for peace from the government, panicked and tense crowds … The shortage of petrol in the United Kingdom, an unexpected consequence of Brexit, is no longer felt and never will. Stops worrying across the channel.
According to the PRA, one of the fuel distributors’ unions, two-thirds of its members (5,500 independent sites out of a total of 8,000 stations in the country), ran out of fuel on Sunday, “the others almost dried up”. As a result, queues sometimes lasting several hours in front of service stations, caregivers and other essential businesses fear a shortage of gasoline for their businesses, and the military prepared to intervene Monday to help with supplies. . , What happened to the sixth world power experiencing such chaos? 20 minutes came to the point.
Where does this fuel shortage come from?
Initially, it is the shortage of truck drivers who are no longer there to deliver petrol from refineries. Riders from the Road Haulage Association (RHA) estimate that the UK needs around 100,000 more lorry drivers. This labor shortage is “mainly” due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to UK Transport Minister Grant Shapps. Due to multiple lockdowns and the need to stay at home, training centers for new drivers remained closed. According to the BBC, 40,000 driver training tests have been canceled due to the pandemic.
Brexit has also played a role in this shortage of lorry drivers: with immigration processes much more complex than before, EU lorry drivers are now reluctant to work in the UK when others have left the country after Brexit . The role of the divorce between Brussels and London is nonetheless controversial. For the RHA, Brexit deprived the United Kingdom of 20,000 European drivers. On the contrary, an opinion that the Transport Minister does not share: “Thanks to Brexit, I was able to change the law and revise the way driving tests work, in a way that if we were still part I would have The place could not have belonged to the European Union. »
A defense that leaves Eric Pichette, professor of economics and finance, and economist at the Cage Business School, skeptical: “Such a phenomenon can only be observed in the United Kingdom, while Italy and France have also experienced multiple imprisonments. Especially since the shortage of foreign labor is felt in all British territories, but it is most visible in the fuel sector. ,
Is there really a lack of fuel?
The crisis began in the middle of last week after a confidential report leaked from BP, one of the petrol giants in the United Kingdom. The report made for the government described only a few dozen service stations that were shutting down due to lack of fuel.
Made public, the report sparked panic and mass purchases by people, creating a vicious cycle: the more the population bought gasoline out of fear of shortages, the more service stations closed, and the more the population feared running out And went to buy gas. “Refueling work in service stations happens from time to time. When it derails, the whole gear slips and the situation can quickly turn into something irreversible,” notes Eric Pichette.
Will the situation improve?
The government and the PRA are hopeful that the situation will already sort itself out to some extent in the coming days, when panic buying will not take place and petrol will return to normal consumption. Still, according to BP, a return to total normalcy will not happen immediately: “It will take time for the sector to consolidate deliveries and replenish stocks.”
With regard to the shortage of truck drivers, London on Saturday pledged to revise its post-Brexit immigration policy and grant 10,500 three-month work visas, breaking Boris Johnson’s policy since the European divorce. The British prime minister initially wanted the island to be away from foreign labor and to strengthen conditions for working in the UK.
Could there be such a problem in France?
Since France is not affected by Brexit, the risk is very low. “Of course, there may be a lack of driver training, but in addition, without the loss of foreign drivers, the situation seems manageable. And France will be able to call in foreign European labor more easily,” says Eric Pichette.
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