British businesses and consumers are continuing to suffer at the hands of the big oil companies as the government focuses on the “self-absorbing, overlong” Tory party leadership election.

The accusation was made this week by campaign group FairFuelUK which is demanding the government and the next Prime Minister cut fuel duty by at least 20p to 25p per litre, similar to other European countries and introduce PumpWatch, to monitor pump prices “as a matter of urgency”.

FairFuelUK is questioning why UK pump prices remain high for both petrol and diesel, when Brent Crude has fallen 14% to £80 a barrel – and in the face of record profits from BP and Shell.

UK prices for diesel are currently topping European rates, at 193ppl, 37p more than Italy, 36p more than France and Spain, 32p more than in Germany and 25p more than Ireland’s diesel prices.

FairFuelUK said the addional cost is garnering the UK government coffers an extra £30m of VAT per day.

Howard Cox called on Tory leadership contenders Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer and MP Liz Truss, to take immediate action, rather than wait until one of them has been chosen as leader in September.

He said: “MPs and the nation want real action on reducing fuel supply chain profiteering to help cut the cost of living and reduce inflationary pressure. Petrol and diesel are 25p a litre higher than necessary. We can’t wait till September for you to act."

He added: "The foul stench of profiteering gets even more overpowering. Despite the cost of oil falling 14% since 1 June, pump prices remain stubbornly 6p to 7p higher.

“The Tory government, stuck in its self-absorbing overlong leadership contest, is allowing the fuel supply chain to ruthlessly exploit the UK's drivers completely unchecked. And the Treasury's coffers are bulging at the seams with a shed load of extra VAT too. An independent PumpWatch is way overdue and its morally repugnant it’s not been up and running by now."

Robert Halfon MP, Vice Chair FairFuelUK APPG said: "This is literally highway robbery from the big oil companies. We need PumpWatch now, to ensure that motorists have a proper watchdog to investigate what appears to be racketeering."

MPs also raised their concerns this week. Craig Mackinlay MP said: “We are no closer to solving the conundrum of why pump prices remain at record highs despite wholesale oil prices returning to previous levels seen earlier in the year and should also be seeing the supposed benefit of a 5p per litre cut in fuel duty.

“Whilst I can appreciate that general supply chain costs will have increased, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have further work to do to understand and explain the situation.

“We should be seeing reductions of at least 25p per litre across all pump fuels; the public have reached their own conclusions that excessive profiteering is at play. HM Treasury have ample room to initiate further duty cuts to alleviate cost of living pressures: I’d recommend they do it.”

Penny Mordaunt MP, Minister of State for trade policy said: “Families rely on their car and business, especially micro businesses, need fiscal support to keep its overheads manageable. All of us need to play our part to keep things moving including a focus on the cost of fuel.”