British officials in U-turn to control fuel panic

LONDON — Britain’s government has moved to stop panic buying at gas pumps, telling motorists there is no need to fill up their tanks as previously stated.

LONDON — Britain’s government has moved to stop panic buying at gas pumps, telling motorists there is no need to fill up their tanks as previously stated. The new advice caps several days of confusion, which even supporters of the ruling Conservative Party say has dented its leadership credentials.

“Even I’m starting to wonder: What do this lot know about anything?” asked Charles Moore, the former editor of Britain’s right-leaning Daily Telegraph, on Saturday.

Things went wrong shortly after Britain’s Unite union threatened to pull off a fuel tanker strike that could still leave thousands of service stations drained of gasoline. Such strikes can have serious political consequences in Britain, where gasoline prices are already among the highest in Europe.

The Conservatives took the initiative earlier this week, warning motorists to stock up on fuel in preparation for possible shortages. Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude went so far as to suggest that drivers fill their jerry cans — metal containers that can hold 20 litres (a little more than five gallons) of gasoline.

Soon, lines began forming outside gas stations. Pumps ran dry. Jerry cans flew off the shelves. All this despite the likelihood that the proposed strike was at least two weeks away.

Some opponents accused the government of sparking panic to distract from what had been a week of nasty news about the economy, Tory party donors, and an embarrassing controversy over officials’ decision to raise taxes on pasties, the cheap and savory snacks enjoyed by millions. Others said that the Conservatives were picking a fight with Unite, which enjoys close ties to the opposition Labour Party.

“We call on the government to come clean on its whole approach to this dispute,” Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said. “Is it acting as an honest broker, or is it spoiling for a fight in order to get itself out of the political hole its class-focussed economic mismanagement has put it in?”

One senior Tory seemed to acknowledge that politics played a role in the fuel pump panic.

“My feeling is this was to try to take people’s minds off donors, the (economic) budget and pasties,” lawmaker Bernard Jenkins told the BBC. “The government added to the heat on this.”

Pressure on the pumps appears to have eased after the Energy Department said late Friday that there was no need for motorists to fill their tanks. But an incident in the English city of York — where a woman burned herself while handling gasoline — could still haunt the Conservatives. The 46-year-old has burns over 40 per cent of her body after the gasoline she was pouring into a glass jug ignited and set fire to her clothes Thursday evening.

Although the full circumstances of the incident aren’t known, the left-leaning Daily Mirror tabloid was one of several newspapers which carried photograph of the woman on its front page Saturday.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Beware of Bitcoin scammers

Red Deer butcher and bistro spreading the word about bitcoin scams

Healthy Living Expo encourages Red Deerians to accomplish New Year’s resolution

Many individuals make the New Year’s resolution to live a healthier life.… Continue reading

Red Deer extreme cold snap expected to end after weekend, according to Environment Canada

Expect it to get a little warmer outside after this weekend. While… Continue reading

Ponoka RCMP asks public to help find missing person

Ponoka RCMP are looking for a woman who went missing Friday night.… Continue reading

Stettler son accused of murdering his father

The RCMP have laid charges against a son charged with killing his… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: Look your best this year

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Your community calendar

Jan. 22 Downtown House Senior Center (5414 43 St.) in Red Deer… Continue reading

Eastern Newfoundland reeling, search underway for missing man after blizzard

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Eastern Newfoundland struggled Saturday to remove record-breaking snowdrifts… Continue reading

Disrespectful that Horgan won’t meet during northern B.C. tour: hereditary chief

HOUSTON, B.C. — It’s disrespectful that Premier John Horgan won’t meet with… Continue reading

Royal deal clears way for Harry, Meghan part-time Canada move: experts

VANCOUVER — Royal watchers say a deal reached by Prince Harry and… Continue reading

Thousands gather for Women’s March rallies across the US

WASHINGTON — Thousands gathered in cities across the country Saturday as part… Continue reading

Sanders steps up appeals to women after flap with Warren

PORTSMOUTH, N.H. — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders stepped up his pitch… Continue reading

National Archives: ‘We made a mistake’ altering Trump photos

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The National Archives said Saturday it made… Continue reading

Trudeau, ministers head to Winnipeg for cabinet retreat, western outreach

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is reviving his practice of holding… Continue reading

Most Read