M25 protests ‘adding nothing’ to efforts to tackle climate change, says minister

·3 min read

Protesters blocking the M25 are “adding nothing” to the cause of tackling climate change, a Government minister has said.

Protestors from Insulate Britain have blocked the major motorway for a fourth time on Monday, as the group calls for better insulation in the country’s homes.

But Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said the demonstrations were inappropriate, and were causing harm.

Appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain programme, Mr Cleverly was played a clip from the LBC radio station of a man who claimed he had been stuck on the motorway for six hours while trying to get his mother to hospital after she suffered a stroke.

He said she had been left partially paralysed and that doctors had told him if they had arrived earlier, she may have had a better chance of recovery.

Mr Cleverly said it was a “harrowing story” and that there had also been crashes due to the demonstrations.

Insulate Britain protests
Paint on a slip road at Junction 18 of the M25, near Rickmansworth, where climate protesters carried out a further action after demonstrations which took place last week (Steve Parsons/PA)

He told GMB: “It is a completely inappropriate way of making the point they’re trying to make, and I know the police have been taking action, the Home Secretary has made it very, very clear that they should be taking action, the police should take action when people are taking part in criminal behaviour, and that’s what I think everybody will expect.”

He said the protests were “ego-driven”, and added: “I think the vast, vast majority of people want to see us tackling climate change, we are tackling climate change, the UK is one of the global leaders in this and this is very much what the Prime Minister will be taking with him as a message when he goes to the United Nations, or now that he’s at the United Nations General Assembly.

“We’ve got the fastest reduction of emissions of any major developed economy, the UK is actually a real leader on this.

Insulate Britain protests
Officers lead a protester to a police van at a slip road at Junction 18 of the M25, near Rickmansworth (Steve Parsons/PA)

“So I have to say, my belief is that those disruptions and protests are more ego-driven, rather than issues-driven. And I would strongly urge the people involved in it not to put themselves and others at harm by this continued disruption.”

He added: “These protesters are waking up at lunchtime and claiming credit for the sunrise. The simple fact is the UK is already pushing the world to do more and we are walking the walk as well as talking the talk and these protesters are adding nothing to that discussion.”

Mr Cleverly is the latest in a string of Government ministers to call for tough action on the group.

Home Secretary Priti Patel is said to have told police to take “decisive” action to crack down on the “selfish” protests which brought traffic to a halt.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps previously said of the demonstrations: “This is dangerous and counterproductive. We all agree that climate change must be tackled, but this sort of behaviour achieves nothing, puts drivers at risk and increases pollution. I expect the police to take swift action to clear the roads.”

A statement from Insulate Britain said: “Early this morning, Insulate Britain blocked the M25 for a fourth time.

“Actions will continue until the government makes a meaningful commitment to insulate all of Britain’s 29 million leaky homes by 2030, and all social housing by 2025.”

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