South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth has slammed the UK Government for its handling of the current fuel crisis.
Like many places across the country, towns across the south of Scotland have seen days of long queues at the pumps and many local stations have now closed having sold out of petrol and diesel.
A shortage of lorry drivers has caused problems for a range of industries and in recent days, some fuel deliveries were affected, leading to panic buying.
On Saturday, the government announced it would offer temporary visas, lasting until Christmas Eve, to 5,000 foreign fuel tanker and food lorry drivers. Other measures include sending nearly one million letters to drivers who hold an HGV licence – to encourage them back into the industry – and plans to train 4,000 people to become HGV drivers.
But Colin Smyth has warned that the action is too little, too late and drafting in the Army to get supplies to petrol stations now looks inevitable.
Colin Smyth said: “The UK Government’s handling of this issue has been completely shocking, they have had five years since the vote on brexit to plan for the ending of freedom of movement and they have completely failed to do so.
“We’re now in a situation where we have a shortage of lorry drivers and the UK Government has been forced into an embarrassing u-turn and is now offering 5,000 temporary visas in a bid to get things moving. But people know that is far too little, far too late in the day.
“People are very worried and have started panic buying, and while I would urge the public to fill up as usual rather than panic buying, ultimately, the buck stops with the UK Government and their complete incompetence.
“My big fear is that this situation will have a negative impact on our already stretched public services, such as ambulances and key workers being unable to fill up to get to work. The UK Government needs to get to grips with the situation as soon as possible and that looks like it will inevitably lead to the Army being drafted in to get supplies to stations.”