The prime minister has finally come out of hiding to address the fuel crisis, but it’s too little, too late

Editorial: The government has failed in its duty over fuel shortages

Tuesday 28 September 2021 21:57
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<p>The prime minister, having failed adequately to prepare, simply hoped the problem would go away </p>

The prime minister, having failed adequately to prepare, simply hoped the problem would go away

After five days of the panic buying of petrol, causing shortages that could now threaten lives as NHS and care workers cannot do their jobs, the prime minister has finally deigned to appear on television.

When protesters against fuel duty rises blockaded supplies in 2000, causing a similar crisis, Tony Blair held daily briefings to update people on how the government was handling the situation. This time, Boris Johnson has been conspicuous in his absence, and even now has only delivered a few words to a shared camera to say that things are “stabilising” and that “the UK is prepared” to get through to Christmas and beyond. There were no details given, and no chances for other journalists to ask questions.

It may be that the prime minister did not want to escalate the response, fearing that if he addressed the nation, it would only make the panic buying worse. We have, unfortunately, gone beyond that point. The government should have taken early and decisive action to ration purchases, not least because it would have sent the message that ministers were in control.

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