Another lockdown possible in Boris' winter Covid plan

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In an unprecedented move, fuel providers have collaborated to reassure motorists that petrol supplies will stabilise within days as they pen a plan to bump up stocks. Industry leaders – including BP, Shell and Esso – have issued a joint statement urging calm among drivers. They said: “There is plenty of fuel at UK refineries and terminals, and as an industry, we are working closely with the Government to help ensure fuel is available to be delivered to stations across the country.”

But Mr Johnson is said to now be facing a “perfect storm” of issues that could fuel another winter crisis, according to reports.

With the threat of COVID-19 restrictions returning after Mr Johnson put forward in his “Covid Winter Plan”, there is already an indication that he is preparing for the worst.

Evidence has shown that coronavirus favours colder, dryer conditions, and with fears of the virus mutating to form new variants there are fear the NHS could become overwhelmed.

But avoiding another spike in Covid cases is only one of a host of worries on Mr Johnson’s plate as temperatures drop.

Gas prices are currently soaring as demand skyrockets and a colder winter poses an even greater threat to the already low gas supplies, and as a result, could lead to an energy crisis.

Already, several energy companies have started to go bust and experts fear that a long, cold winter will expose the UK to gas shortages and severe market shocks as demand is expected to increase, as Britain’s gas storage levels are far lower than its neighbouring European countries.

Kim Fustier, an analyst at investment giant HSBC said: “A colder-than-average winter could push storage levels to dangerously low levels, raising risks of price spikes and shortages.”

The rising energy costs also led to brief carbon dioxide shortages as factories that produced it were running fewer hours in order to cut their energy costs.

This had caused a brief shortage of frozen foods in supermarkets and threatened the poultry industry, as Co2 is used to humanely slaughter chickens.

Kwasi Kwarteng did bail out CF Industires, a Co2 production company and ministers are confident that the Co2 shortages were a short-term problem.

But they are still yet to solve the root of the problem, which is said to be a shortage of 90,000 HGV lorry drivers.

Mr Johnson’s fears appeared to be running so high that he ordered the Army to be put on standby to deliver petrol and diesel on a short-term basis to petrol stations hit by panic buying.

The Government has been slammed for allowing the crisis to happen, with Labour leader Sir Kier Starmer calling on them to “bring together businesses and trade unions to develop a proper plan, both for the immediate crisis, as well as to tackle the long-term issues that have led us here”.

Dr Duncan Robertson, a Policy and Strategy Analytics academic at Loughborough University, took to Twitter on the weekend to share his three-stage plan to avert another such situation.

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He said: “But what do we do ‘now’ given that there may well be other events over the coming autumn and winter.

“First – stop public relations responses to events. This is important stuff that should be above politics.

“Second – give true, timely, accurate information (an exemplar is the coronavirus dashboard coronavirus.data.gov.uk).

“Third – explain what went wrong objectively and explain what is being done to stop it from happening again.

“All of those may be politically easier said than done.”

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