Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UK can’t find 216 votes to pass emergency fund for Northern Ireland

Three days after the devastating blizzard of 2017, British Prime Minister Theresa May has failed to find the 216 votes she will need to pass an emergency fund for stricken communities in Northern Ireland and travel to the region was halted through Sunday.

Officials concede, though, that the supply of fuel and power across the UK has quickly normalized. Some travel remains blocked, while some businesses are only functioning as emergency services remain on standby.

A year to the day since Boris Johnson, a pro-Brexit Cabinet minister, expressed optimism that his country would not face fuel shortages because of the 2015 summer exodus of over one million Eastern Europeans, the issue is now at the heart of Britain’s looming negotiations with the European Union, which Johnson resigned in protest over last year.

“We did better than I ever dreamed of,” he told the BBC.

About 50,000 Europeans crossed over from Spain and France last year and on Sunday representatives from the European Commission predicted that numbers could match or exceed 2017 numbers, continuing a trend of growth in recent years.

Still, oil wholesalers and power generation remain under pressure.

Energy production in northern England has been suspended throughout Sunday and into Monday. Ed Davey, energy minister, said authorities had been trying to make sure fuel got to motorists but acknowledged that the issue had been a “human issue” and would require more manpower to clear roads.

The British distributor of motor fuel has warned that some of the central region and an area including Luton and Milton Keynes had a 12-hour restriction on deliveries from 1 p.m. Sunday.

Transport Minister Chris Grayling issued a warning on Saturday that anyone driving into these areas might find it impossible to drive themselves out again.

Officials were able to get highway crews out into the boroughs as of early Sunday morning, allowing emergency services to resume some services.

A comprehensive breakdown by the Associated Press on Sunday showed that fuel tankers were left stranded and motorists were stuck at home, crippled by snowfall that began falling last week.

Motorists in Northern Ireland were left with nothing to eat in many areas. Officials had ordered 220 tons of salt in advance, but the supply arrived too late.

David Rooney, a 61-year-old retiree, told the Belfast Telegraph that “nothing” was delivered because “the conveyor belt broke down.”

Four councils reported fuel shortages. Dhanananjana Vedantam of the Guardian reported that “fuel is still running dry. There is no indication when it will come again or where the haulage companies are.”

Meanwhile, travel remained difficult in many areas, including London.

Elaine Long, an office administrator, told BBC Newsnight that she was stuck with eight colleagues who were being kept overnight on a railway car.

“There’s so much trouble everywhere but we didn’t want to stay out in the cold,” she said.

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