Political pressure is building on the British government to grant emergency work visas to EU truck drivers to help alleviate mounting supply problems in the country.

Some petrol stations have closed in England because there were no drivers available to deliver fuel supplies.

Britain is not running out of petrol or diesel – it is a significant producer of oil and gas - but finding drivers to move petrol and diesel to forecourts is as difficult for the oil companies as any other sector in the British economy.

BP, which operates about 1,200 petrol stations, has run out of either petrol or diesel in between 50 and 100 outlets. In a handful of cases, they have completely run out of both and have had to close the outlet. Some Tesco garages, operated by Esso, have had to close for similar reasons.

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Blanket media coverage has led to some queues forming, and the British government has appealed to motorists not to panic buy.

Industries reliant on transport have appealed to the government to relax is immigration laws to tempt back the estimated 15,000-20,000 drivers who have left the country since full Brexit measures came into force at the start of this year.

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The haulage industry has cautioned that there were no quick fixes.

Just as the world's fifth largest economy emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, a spike in European natural gas prices and a post-Brexit shortage of truck drivers has left Britain grappling with soaring energy prices and a potential food supply crunch.

For months supermarkets and farmers have warned that a shortage of truck drivers was straining supply chains to breaking point - making it harder to get goods onto shelves.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said there was a global shortage of truckers after Covid halted lorry driver testing so Britain was doubling the number of tests.

Asked if the government would ease visa rules, he said the government would look at all options.

"We'll do whatever it takes," Shapps told Sky News. "We'll move heaven and earth to do whatever we can to make sure that shortages are alleviated with HGV drivers."

"We should see it smooth out fairly quickly," he said.

Hauliers and logistics companies cautioned that there were no quick fixes and that any change to testing or visas would likely be too late to alleviate the pre-Christmas shortages as retailers stockpile months ahead.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government has insisted that there will be no return to the 1970s when Britain was cast by allies as the "sick man of Europe" with three-day weeks, energy shortages and rampant inflation.

But as ministers urged the public not to panic buy, some of Britain's biggest supermarkets have warned that a shortage of truck drivers could lead to just that ahead of Christmas.

Such is the strain on the supply chain, McDonald's had to take milkshakes and bottled drinks off the menu at its British restaurants in August and chicken chain Nando's ran out of chicken.

Suppliers have warned that there could be more shortages of petrol because of a lack of drivers to transport fuel from refineries to retail outlets.

The trucking industry body, the Road Haulage Association, has called on the government to allow short-term visas for international drivers to enter Britain and fill the gap, while British drivers are being trained for the future.

"It's an enormous challenge," Rod McKenzie, head of policy at the RHA, told Reuters.

In the short-term he said international drivers could help, even if it may be too late to help Christmas, and in the longer term the industry needed better pay and conditions to attract workers.

"It's a tough job. We the British do not help truckers in the way that Europeans and Americans do by giving them decent facilities," he said.

The British haulage industry says it needs around 100,000 more drivers after 25,000 returned to Europe before Brexit and the pandemic halted the qualification process for new workers.

Shapps, who said the driver shortage was not due to Brexit, said Covid-19 exacerbated the problem given that Britain was unable to test 40,000 drivers during lockdowns.

"It's a bit of a global problem so it's not immediately obvious that opening up visas would actually resolve the problem," he told Times Radio.

Asked about the fuel issues in the UK, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said has been been concerned about the impact of Brexit for a long time and that Covid has masked the issues around it.

He said Ireland has prepared well for Brexit, because we have opened up links to Europe.

Mr Martin said getting goods into Ireland is taking much longer and the full extent of the fallout has "yet to come".

He said there has not been the same preparation for Brexit in the UK and the results of that are showing in certain areas.

Additional reporting from Reuters