Hundreds of soldiers could be scrambled to deliver fuel to petrol stations running dry across the country due to panic buying and a shortage of drivers under an emergency plan expected to be considered by Boris Johnson on Monday.
The prime minister will gather senior members of the cabinet to scrutinise “Operation Escalin” after BP admitted that a third of its petrol stations had run out of the main two grades of fuel, while the Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents almost 5,500 independent outlets, said 50% to 90% of its members had reported running out. It predicted that the rest would soon follow.
The developments led to growing fears that the UK could be heading into a second “winter of discontent” and warnings that shelves could be emptier than usual in the run-up to Christmas.
In a bid to prevent the crisis from deepening further, ministers including the business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, transport secretary Grant Shapps and home secretary Priti Patel gathered for a midday meeting on Sunday to discuss options – including Operation Escalin.