[EUROPE] UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown says petrol prices 'must' fall as oil tumbles
Mr Gordon Brown hinted that unless retailers cut their prices in line with falling international oil prices, he will ask the Office of Fair Trading to look into their behaviour. Firms including ASDA have this week cut their petrol price to below £1 a litre. The price of a barrel of oil has dropped by half from July's peak of $147. On Thursday, the oil price fell as low as $67.62. Mr Brown said that both he and British drivers now "expect" retailers to start cutting prices.
"I think the public know that when oil prices go up it is reflected very quickly in the petrol pump price," he said. "What we want to know is that when oil prices come down that is also reflected in the pump price."
He added: "You will see over the next few days people giving a great deal of attention to what the price is. The first thing we want to see is retailers following the lead that has been taken by some people.
The Prime Minister, who was speaking to reporters in Brussels, said that the Government will be closely monitoring petrol prices over the next few days.
He added: "You have also got to remember - and we have had a number of reports done on this by the Office for Fair Trading and others - that the petrol rpice is high in some parts of the country - £1.20 a litre in some areas.
"And that we will continue to look at as well. We have reports done on this before to look at what is happening in the market place.
"We will continue to examine these things but I believe that also must change."
Brendan McLoughlin of PetrolPrices.com welcomed falling prices, but warned that relief for motorists could be temporary.
He said: "Lower petrol prices are dependent on low oil prices, so if the banking crisis forces investors towards commodities we could see both the price of oil and petrol picking up again."
The remarks about petrol prices represent a change of tone from the Prime Minister.
At the second day of a European Union summit in Brussels, Mr Brown appeared to drop his recent focus on international financial reforms and talking at length about "the hard and difficult times" facing British families and companies.
The change reflects private concerns in No 10 that the Prime Minister's newfound image in some European capitals as the economic saviour of the world financial system risks leaving him looking disconnected from the concerns of voters at home.