Senior officers said lives were at risk on roads blocked by queues of motorists rushing to fill up after ministerial warnings of fuel running out or being rationed. The government sent out a message urging everyone to fill up with fuel and stock up with jerry cans, warning that a petrol tanker strike was on the way. The panic petrol buying saw an increase of 80% on the first day this warning was issued, which tax accountants say, earned the government an extra £32m.

With queues forming at petrol stations around Britain, furious retailers and motoring organisations accused the Government of “creating a crisis”.

Susie Tizard, 29, an accountant from Highbury, needed fuel to visit her father in hospital in Surrey. She said: “I saw someone walk out with a big tank of petrol, which is annoying. If they just filled their cars it’d be fine.”

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