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2000: French fuel protests spread to UK

The fuel protests which have been crippling France for the past week have now reached Britain with a series of actions across the country.

The protesters - mainly road hauliers and farmers - are displaying their anger at Europe's highest fuel prices, which are due to rise another 2p per litre within the next few days.

This afternoon there was a 100 lorry "go-slow" protest on the A1 in Tyne and Wear and a convoy of 200-300 people set off to Wales to block the Texaco refinery near Pembroke.

The actions follow blockades at oil installations at Ellesmere Port in Cheshire and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire.

"We're always on the sharp end"

Protesting taxi driver

The chairman of the Farmers for Action UK group said the demonstrations were only the beginning of a "winter of unrest".

A taxi driver taking part in the A1 protest said drivers were frustrated with their plight being ignored by the government.

"Everything's gone up and our money's gone down, so that's why we feel so strongly - we're losing out all the time, we're always on the sharp end," he said.

But the Transport Minister, Lord McDonald, said the government was in tune with motorists.

He told the BBC that Chancellor Gordon Brown had reduced road taxes and stopped fuel duty escalating as it had done under the Conservatives.

In Context
The protests spread rapidly and gained widespread public support.

Although the protesters did not actively stop tankers leaving refineries, some drivers were reluctant to cross the unofficial picket lines.

The lack of fuel crippled Britain, preventing vital deliveries to supermarkets, hospitals - and petrol stations.

Food and fuel rationing became commonplace across the country, and the government had to resort to using emergency powers to get tankers moving.

The protests ended on 14 September, but UK Prime Minister Tony Blair ruled out giving in to public opinion and cutting taxes to bring fuel prices down.

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