Boris Johnson vows to crack down on climate anarchists

Boris Johnson vows to crack down on climate anarchists with tough new laws against mass protests after Extinction Rebellion extremists delayed distribution of newspapers

  • Boris Johnson is drawing up plans for crackdown on climate change protests
  • PM has consulted colleagues about drafting new public order laws after demo
  • Mr Johnson may be strengthening laws to impose curbs on mass gatherings

Boris Johnson is drawing up plans for a new crackdown on disruptive demonstrations after climate activists delayed the distribution of hundreds of thousands of copies of national newspapers yesterday.

The Prime Minister, who branded the action by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group a ‘completely unacceptable’ attempt to ‘limit the public’s access’ to a ‘vital’ free press, is understood to have consulted colleagues, including Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, about drafting new public order laws in the wake of the disturbances. 

More than 70 arrests were made after dozens of activists chained themselves to the gates of Newsprinters in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and blocked access to presses in Knowsley near Liverpool, delaying the arrival of hundreds of thousands of papers, including the Daily Mail, to newsagents.

Boris Johnson is drawing up plans for a new crackdown on disruptive demonstrations after climate activists delayed the distribution of thousands of copies of newspapers

Mr Johnson, who spoke to Met Police Commissioner Cressida Dick to urge her to do more to defend the plants, said: ‘It is completely unacceptable to seek to limit the public’s access to news in this way.’

The Prime Minister is considering strengthening the laws to impose tighter restrictions on mass gatherings, in particular where it threatens the freedom of the press.

A source said: ‘Boris believes that the protection of a free press is a key tenet of democracy and the law should do more to uphold that’.

The Prime Minister, who branded the action by the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group a ‘completely unacceptable’ attempt to ‘limit the public’s access’ to a ‘vital’ free press, is understood to have consulted colleagues, including Justice Secretary Robert Buckland, about drafting new public order laws in the wake of the disturbances

More than 70 arrests were made after activists chained themselves to the gates of Newsprinters in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire and blocked access to presses in Knowsley near Liverpool, delaying the arrival of thousands of papers, including the Mail, to newsagents 

Mr Johnson’s views were echoed by his fiancée, Carrie Symonds, who said: ‘I care about climate change and biodiversity a massive amount but preventing a free press to spread this message further is just wrong.

‘Not to mention all those small businesses that rely on being able to sell newspapers.’

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer did not comment on the protests, but a party spokesman said that he supported the view of his Culture Spokesperson Jo Stevens, who said: ‘A free press is vital for our democracy.’

Conservative MP Tobias Ellwood backed a legal crackdown on XR, telling The Mail on Sunday: ‘Extinction Rebellion has lost sight of its original cause and is recklessly pursuing a divisive agenda intent on causing disruption on a mass scale.

‘By intentionally and unapologetically stifling press freedoms, harming news agents revenues and denying the public access to newspapers, the organisation crossed a line which must be defended. I have spoken with the Justice Secretary and requested he review legislation relating to unlawful and disruptive protests’.

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