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UK may lockdown again as Fuel prices surge, families struggle to fill up their cars

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Britain is heading for a ‘de facto lockdown’ because soaring fuel prices are making it impossible for people to fill-up, ministers have been warned.

Senior Tory MP Robert Halfon said parents will soon no longer be able to afford to take their children to school while workers will struggle to get to work.

He was speaking in the House of Commons against the background of calls for the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, to cut fuel duty to help people suffering a cost of living crisis.

The Republic of Ireland has cut fuel duty by 20 cents (17p) a litre on unleaded and 15 cents (13p) on diesel – and the UK is under pressure to follow suit.

Speaking at Transport questions, Halfon, said: “In Ireland it’s a very happy St Patrick’s day because they’ve cut fuel duty over the past week.”

By contrast he said: “We’re heading to a de facto lockdown where parents can’t afford to take their kids to school, where workers can’t afford to commute by car and have to stay at home.”

He asked if the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, would “make appeals to the Treasury to cut fuel duty in the spending round next week.”

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Shapps replied: “I will have further conversations, of course, with my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer, but it will be for him to decide on the next measures.”

Prices have surged amid the fall-out from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with the result it now costs almost £100 to fill a diesel car tank.

The RAC said unleaded petrol hit a new high of 165.4p a litre on Wednesday, which is up by around 14p a litre in around two weeks. The figure for diesel is up by around 21p a litre over the same period to 176.76p.

RAC fuel spokesman Simon Williams said: “It’s still crucial that the Chancellor takes some action at next week’s Spring Statement to help ease the burden on drivers, either by cutting duty from the current 58p a litre or reducing VAT which now accounts for around 28p a litre.

“Other countries have stepped in to help lessen the impact of rising fuel costs on homes and businesses, so we urge the UK to follow suit.”

The Petrol Retailers’ Association is calling on the Chancellor to follow the example of other European countries and cut fuel duty to shield consumers from international events.

Gordon Balmer, executive director of the PRA, said: “It is crucial that the Government takes steps to reduce the burden of energy prices on consumers.

“Government inaction is now impacting our members in NI, who are unable to match the prices of their counterparts across the border. We strongly urge the Chancellor to follow the example of other European countries and cut fuel duty.”

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