Newslinks

Kwarteng suspends competition law to get fuel to petrol stations after panic buying

“Britain’s petrol crisis has deepened, forcing ministers to suspend competition law to help oil companies to target petrol stations running dry, after days of panic buying. After a meeting with oil companies and retailers on Sunday, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng agreed to temporarily exempt the industry from the Competition Act 1998. This rare move announced last night will allow companies across the oil industry to work together to keep petrol stations topped up, sharing information and optimising supply without risking breaching competition rules. Called the Downstream Oil Protocol, it should help fuel producers, suppliers, hauliers and retailers to prioritise the delivery of fuel to the parts of the country and strategic locations that are most in need.” – The Guardian

  • Punch-ups at the petrol pumps as drivers clash over last drops – The Times
  • Shapps hits out at ‘manufactured’ crisis as drivers panic-buy fuel – The Guardian

>Yesterday: Video: WATCH: “There’s plenty of fuel”. Shapps urges public not to panic buy at petrol stations.

Army will be sent in to tackle fuel crisis

“Soldiers are likely to be put on notice to drive petrol tankers to forecourts within days as motorists continue to panic buy, The Times has been told. The government is expected to order the military to prepare hundreds of personnel to man tankers. The Petrol Retailers Association (PRA), which represents the majority of petrol stations in Britain, estimated that between 50 and 90 per cent of them had run dry. Kwasi Kwarteng, the business secretary, suspended competition laws last night to allow fuel suppliers to co-operate and ensure that petrol stations running empty were restocked. The move comes after Boris Johnson announced that 5,000 foreign lorry drivers would be allowed into the country in an attempt to ease the delays in supplying filling stations.” – The Times

  • Military drivers being ‘trained in the background’, amid fears they don’t have niche skills needed to load fuel – Daily Telegraph

>Today: Chris Skidmore MP in Comment: Nuclear power. More small reactors in the future? Fine. But we need more big ones soon if the lights are to stay on.

Haulage body with anti-Brexit drive was behind fuel crisis leak, claim No 10 sources

“Sometimes, when sensitive details of a government meeting are leaked to the media, it can take months and a full-scale inquiry to identify the mole. No such inquiry has been launched into the leak that prompted the fuel crisis on Thursday, because the shortlist of suspects, according to Whitehall insiders, has only ever consisted of one name. The Road Haulage Association (RHA), which attended a Zoom call hosted by the Cabinet Office to discuss driver shortages, has been accused of prompting the weekend’s panic-buying in order to further its own political agenda. The RHA has been campaigning for months for cheap foreign labour to be allowed back into the country to make up a shortfall of lorry drivers which it has “massively exaggerated”, sources say.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Johnson slammed by unions for turning to foreign HGV drivers… – Daily Telegraph
  • …as he ‘insists on a pay rise for truckers’ and will send a million of them morale-booster letters – Daily Mail
  • Visa schemes to ease lorry driver shortages dubbed ‘not enough’ – FT

Zahawi: I will not stand back and see schools close

“The new Education Secretary has said he will not “stand back” and allow pupils to miss school as a result of Covid, as he encouraged children to get the vaccine. Setting out his priorities for the first time in his new role, Nadhim Zahawi said that as a parent he has seen how “damaging” it can be for children to be out of education and the “great strain” it can put on family life. Writing in The Telegraph, Mr Zahawi, who was appointed Education Secretary earlier this month after Gavin Williamson was sacked in a Cabinet re-shuffle, said that almost every state school is now open and operating normally. He cited the latest official attendance figures, which showed that 122,500 pupils were off school last week compared to a peak of more than a million in July when entire “bubbles” were sent home when a child tested positive.” – Daily Telegraph

  • Stranded teachers may return to online classroom – The Times

Comment:

  • Vaccines are vital for getting our children’s education back on track – Nadhim Zahawi MP, Daily Telegraph

Top Tories want universities to register China connections

“Senior Conservatives have called on ministers to set up a “Domesday book” tracking Chinese influence on Britain’s universities and research institutions. Amid increasing concern about the reliance of leading academic institutions on Chinese money, the new report calls for a review of all research partnerships and funding arrangements and a register of all connections. It also says that the government should work to reduce universities’ reliance on the record number of Chinese students studying in the UK. Money from Chinese students makes up a fifth of universities’ fee income. The report has been written by the China Research Group of Tory MPs and is backed by the former foreign secretaries Jeremy Hunt and Lord Hague of Richmond.” – The Times Continue to all today’s Newslinks