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Sat, 4 April 2020

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Reducing UK emissions remains an emergency despite current crisis Member content
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By Hege Saebjornsen, Sustainability Manager

Boris Johnson dismisses Extinction Rebellion campaigners as 'crusties' as London protests continue

Boris Johnson dismisses Extinction Rebellion campaigners as 'crusties' as London protests continue
3 min read

Boris Johnson has dismissed the Extinction Rebellion protestors taking to the streets of London as "uncooperative crusties".

The Prime Minister accused the environmental campaign group - which is pushing to highlight what it sees as Government inaction on climate change - of "littering the road", as he defended the Tories' record on global warming.

Activists have blockaded key sites in central London as part of a two-week push to shut down Westminster and highlight their call for ministers to declare "a climate and ecological emergency".

The group also wants MPs to sign up to a bill committing to wipe out carbon emissions completely by 2025, and are calling for a 'Citizen's Assembly' to be set up to oversee the switch to zero-carbon.

But Mr Johnson - who has already urged the police to use the "full force of the law" against any unlawful protests - said the group should abandon their "heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs" as he spoke at the launch of a new book about Margaret Thatcher by Charles Moore.

"I am afraid that the security people didn't want me to come along tonight because they said the road was full of uncooperative crusties and protesters of all kinds littering the road," the Prime Minister said.

"They said there was some risk that I would be egged."

The Prime Minister meanwhile urged the activists to look at the record of Mrs Thatcher - arguing that the former Conservative leader had called for politicians to take climate change seriously before the current crop of activists was born.

"I hope that when we go out from this place tonight and we are waylaid by importunate nose-ringed climate change protesters, we remind them that she was also right about greenhouse gases," he said.

"And she took it seriously long before Greta Thunberg. And the best thing possible for the education of the denizens of the heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs that now litter Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park, the best thing would be for them to stop blocking the traffic and buy a copy of Charles’s magnificent book so that they can learn about a true feminist, green and revolutionary who changed the world for the better."

But former Tory MP Nick Boles - who quit the party over its stance on Brexit - hit out at the Prime Minister over the comments, branding him "Britain Trump".

The Metropolitan Police on Monday night said 280 people had been arrested in connection with the protests.

Number 10 on Monday urged the group to ensure people "can continue to go about their business, get to and from work, visit family and have access to vital services".

"The Government expects the police to take a firm stance against protesters who significantly disrupt the lives of others and to use the full force of the law," Mr Johnson's spokesperson said.

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