Exclusive: Dawn Butler Says She Didn't Delete Her Tweet About Extinction Rebellion On Purpose, And She Supports Them
Dawn Butler has defended her comments about the eco-activists
Dawn Butler has doubled down on her support for Extinction Rebellion as she claimed her tweet praising their newspaper protest was removed "accidentally".
The Labour MP had come under fire after she applauded the eco-activists for their "excellent work" in blocking newspaper presses on Friday evening, including those printing The Times, The Sun, The Daily Telegraph and the Evening Standard.
Around 100 Extinction Rebellion activists were involved in the blockade of the Hertfordshire plant, claiming they had taken the action because of the outlets' "failure to report on the climate & ecological emergency, and their consistent manipulation of truth to suit their own agendas".
In a tweet sent on Saturday morning, and deleted hours later, former shadow equalities minister Ms Butler said: "Bravo Extinction Rebellion. Excellent work..."
Some suggested she had removed the tweet following pressure from her party's leadership, who went on to condemn the protests, with Labour leader Keir Starmer saying the action was "wrong and does nothing to tackle climate change".
But speaking on Tuesday, Ms Butler said the tweet had been removed by accident and that she continued to support the group.
"There is a story behind that, that tweet was deleted by accident, but I don't want to distract from that discussion," she told BBC's Politics Live.
"The thing is I've boycotted The Sun and continue to boycott The Sun, I won't ever buy the Daily Mail.
"Of course people have the right to buy those tabloid press but I would never do."
And speaking to PoliticsHome, the former party deputy leadership candidate said she would "stand by" her original comments because the group were "on the right side of history".
"I stand by my original comments and support Extinction Rebellion," she said.
"The protests occurred on the very same week that the Conservative government chose to hire Tony Abbott, a known climate denier, to its Board of Trade.
"This government has shown that we cannot trust them when it comes to tackling climate change, so I applaud Extinction Rebellion for raising awareness for what is the greatest threat facing our planet."
She added: "Direct action can at times be uncomfortable, as we have seen in the past with the Suffragettes, Civil Rights campaigners and others however I believe, like these groups, Extinction Rebellion are on the right side of history.
"I am deeply opposed to any attempts to proscribe the group, reports of which should be concerning to us all. We cannot allow the Government to shut down the important right to peaceful protest in our country.
"I will continue to support Extinction Rebellion, as well as other groups who are campaigning for strong action to tackle the very real and immediate threat of climate change, to protect our planet and future generations."
Her comments came amid growing anger from Downing Street over Extinction Rebellion's activities, with a spokesperson on Monday accusing it of putting lives at risk by diverting emergency services to deal with protests.
Meanwhile, The Sun reported that home secretary Priti Patel is set to use a speech to senior police officers to urge them to "stand firm against the guerrilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion".
According to paper, Ms Patel will tell the Police Superintendents Association: "I refuse point-blank to allow anarchy on our streets. I am right behind you as you bring the full might of the law down on the selfish minority behind it.
"Together, we must stand firm against the guerrilla tactics of Extinction Rebellion."
She will add: "You have a huge range of powers at your disposal, and I urge you to use them."