Greenpeace activists have staged a protest during the Prime Minister’s conference speech on Wednesday, brandishing a flag reading “who voted for this?”.
The protesters, ejected from the hall shortly afterwards, interrupted Liz Truss’s televised leader’s speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham to protest plans that Greenpeace said nobody voted for.
Ms Truss could be heard saying “let’s get them removed”, before being roundly cheered and applauded by party members as the protesters were lead away.
The PM is U-turning on fracking, strong climate action, and world-leading environmental protections.
Who voted for this? pic.twitter.com/f2SSn7hBu3
— Greenpeace UK (@GreenpeaceUK) October 5, 2022
Greenpeace quickly confirmed that it was behind the demonstration, accusing the new Prime Minister of “shredding” the promises made in the 2019 manifesto.
In a statement Rebecca Newsom, one of the protesters and Greenpeace head of public affairs in the UK, elaborated on the message set out on the flag.
“In a healthy democracy, people should get the government programme they voted for, but Liz Truss is putting most of it through the shredder,” she said.
She was joined in the protest by Greenpeace policy officer Ami McCarthy.
“People voted for strong action on climate, a fracking moratorium, world-leading environmental protections, and tackling poverty and inequality,” Ms Newsom said.
“What they’re getting instead is fracking, a potential bonfire of rules on wildlife and nature protection, and now the prospect of benefit cuts.
“Broken promise after broken promise, the Prime Minister is quickly turning her party’s manifesto into the longest piece of false advertising ever written.
“Many will be left wondering whether her Government answers to the public or to the hedge fund managers, right-wing think tanks and fossil fuel giants that are cheering it on.
“The Chancellor said the Government is now listening.
“If so, they may want to pay attention to the widening chorus of leading businesses, energy experts, former Conservative ministers and even the US president telling them to go in the opposite direction.”
Ms Truss tried to make a joke of the protest as she continued with her speech, telling party members at the conference: “Now, later on in my speech, my friends, I am going to talk about the anti-growth coalition but I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early.”
Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey said it was “disappointing” that the speech had been interrupted.
“Dealt with, got on with it, and Liz showed her resolve,” Ms Coffey told the BBC’s Politics Live programme.
“And exactly the sort of anti-growth coalition which she’s concerned is holding our country back.
“It didn’t hold her back today I can tell you.”
Jacob Rees-Mogg also said that the Prime Minister had responded “with humour and charm”.
Ms Newsom, speaking to reporters after being thrown out of the speech, said: “This year we really felt we needed to make an intervention because nobody actually voted for a lot of what Liz Truss and her Government are trying to do at the moment.
“Nobody voted for fracking, nobody voted to cut benefits, nobody voted to trash nature, nobody voted to scrap workers’ rights.
“There’s a whole host of things that the Conservative Government were elected to do in 2019 that they are simply not doing and we needed to take that message and represent the public and actually push for Liz Truss to remain true to what the public has actually asked her and her Government to do.”
Both protesters said they were “hopeful” that the Government would remain committed to net zero, but that its policy was currently heading in the wrong direction.
Ms McCarthy said: “With policies like the ones she’s suggesting, a focus on fracking, a focus on North Sea oil and gas, it’s absolutely not the right direction.”