There is no shortage of petrol, or there wasn’t until some Britons decided to rush to fill up their tanks. They were driven to do so by oil company briefings and media reports revealing that a lack of drivers may cause some difficulties at forecourts. Cue panic over the weekend.

As in banking and dispensing cash, the smooth supply of petrol relies on confidence and everyone not rushing at once. There is more than sufficient petrol at the pumps, or there should have been. That distinction is academic, however. When a run starts, those taking part are often behaving perfectly rationally. If you drive to work, like rather a lot of Britons do, you need fuel to get there. If it’s running out at the pumps because of a panic, it is not daft to try to get some.

The spiralling situation has infuriated and rather spooked ministers, who are blaming the media for stirring panic by reporting what some of the oil companies are saying and then showing pictures of queues at petrol stations that then encourages others, in a panic, to join in, thus worsening the problem.

That’s all very well, and there may be something in that. But ministers cannot have it both ways. For months the attitude to business from government has been that it is forever whingeing or crying wolf, so it is safe to ignore business when it warns government and the public. To paraphrase the PM in an earlier context: “F*** business.” Incidentally, the point of the cry wolf story is that in the end there was a wolf.

In that context, this petrol station crisis starts to look like payback, as though several frustrated corporates have decided to teach the government a lesson. The Mail on Sunday blamed the briefings and panic on “Remainers” at firms such as BP. That sounds like a stretch. The referendum was more than five years ago. Many firms have for months been trying to alert the government, and they have met with a cool response.

A well-connected figure who has been trying in vain to get contacts in government to listen to warnings about drivers and other stresses in the supply chain says: “They don’t listen. They don’t engage properly. They’ve got the message from Boris to not pay too much attention to anti-Brexit business. It’s ridiculous. For the last month they’ve been obsessed with the reshuffle and their own prospects. It’s chaos and they don’t listen.”