Insulate Britain has temporarily backed down from any more hated protests on British roads after weeks of misery for drivers.
The eco-zealots revealed today it would ‘suspend its campaign of civil resistance’ until October 25 – ahead of the Cop26 summit in November.
Activists penned a letter to Boris Johnson saying they would stop their hated antics and quoted the PM’s hero Winston Churchill in an apparent bid to win him over.
The surprise move comes just hours after it was revealed more than a dozen of their members will finally face court action and possible jail within days.
Just over a month after the first roadblocks brought chaos to the motorways, officials are set to ask judges to take action against the eco-warriors.
Yesterday Insulate Britain returned to causing disruption as they ran on to the road by traffic lights at junction 31 near Thurrock by the Dartford Crossing.
But motorists got out of their cars and dragged the protesters off the road while they were still in seated positions, with one man seen ripping banners out of their hands.
Essex Police made a total of 35 arrests across two sites, including 16 people on the M25 and 19 by a nearby industrial estate.
The eco-zealots (pictured yesterday) revealed today it would ‘suspend its campaign of civil resistance’ until October 25 – ahead of the Cop26 summit in November
Insulate Britain’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson is pictured above in full
Insulate Britain’s letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson in full:
Dear Prime Minister,
‘Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest of warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger.
The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence.’ (Winston Churchill 1936)
Insulate Britain would like to take this opportunity to profoundly acknowledge the disruption caused over the past five weeks. We cannot imagine undertaking such acts in normal circumstances. But the dire reality of our situation has to be faced.
The facts are laid out by Sir David King, the former chief scientific advisor to the UK government, he said ‘We have to move quickly. What we do, I believe, in the next 3 to 4 years will determine the future of humanity’.
The collapse of the climate is happening around us. We face economic chaos and the breakdown of law and order in a matter of years. We will lose our incomes, pensions, and savings while passing on an appalling legacy to our children. They will be rightly furious. Around the world thousands of millions of people will lose their lives through slaughter and starvation as crops fail and society collapses.
Ahead of COP26, Insulate Britain will suspend its campaign of civil resistance until Monday 25th October. In light of the speech you made (to the UN on the 22nd September) in which you recognised that ‘We are approaching that critical turning point – in less than two months – when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves’, we ask you to use this time to signal that you believe what you say.
We invite you to make a meaningful statement that we can trust, a statement that the country wants to hear: that your government will live up to its responsibilities to protect us, to defend law and order; that your government will take the lead needed to insulate and retrofit our homes; that it will ‘get on with the job’ so families can feed their children and keep their homes warm.
We invite you to do the right thing, so we can be secure in the knowledge that our government did everything it could to protect and defend our country.
The letter to the PM said: ‘Insulate Britain would like to take this opportunity to profoundly acknowledge the disruption caused over the past five weeks.
‘We cannot imagine undertaking such acts in normal circumstances. But the dire reality of our situation has to be faced.
‘Ahead of COP26, Insulate Britain will suspend its campaign of civil resistance until Monday 25th October.
‘In light of the speech you made (to the UN on the 22nd September) in which you recognised that ”We are approaching that critical turning point – in less than two months – when we must show that we are capable of learning, and maturing, and finally taking responsibility for the destruction we are inflicting, not just upon our planet but ourselves”, we ask you to use this time to signal that you believe what you say.
‘We invite you to make a meaningful statement that we can trust, a statement that the country wants to hear: that your government will live up to its responsibilities to protect us, to defend law and order; that your government will take the lead needed to insulate and retrofit our homes; that it will ‘get on with the job’ so families can feed their children and keep their homes warm.
‘We invite you to do the right thing, so we can be secure in the knowledge that our government did everything it could to protect and defend our country.’
The statement began with a quote attributed to Sir Winston Churchill, Mr Johnson’s hero who he has written a biography about.
It said: ‘Owing to past neglect, in the face of the plainest of warnings, we have entered upon a period of danger.
‘The era of procrastination, of half measures, of soothing baffling expedients, of delays is coming to its close. In its place we are entering a period of consequence.’ (Winston Churchill 1936).’
Ringleader Liam Norton said he will hand deliver the note to the Prime Minister in Downing Street at 1pm.
It came hours after it emerged more than a dozen Insulate Britain activists will finally face court action – and possible jail – within days.
Just over a month after the first roadblocks brought chaos to the motorways, officials are set to ask judges to take action against the eco-zealots.
There has been increasing dismay among ministers about the slow pace of action at National Highways, previously known as Highways England, and with police who have made arrests only to release protesters hours later.
But final details are now being added to legal papers which could see Insulate Britain demonstrators taken out of action at last.
The number of activists being targeted is understood to be between 12 and 15.
The group are part of the 113 people named in a National Highways junctions which they will be accused of breaching.
A government source said: ‘We’ve identified a considerable number of protesters who have breached at least one of the injunctions we have in place.
‘National Highways lawyers are now working with the police to put together evidence in order to take these people to court.
‘We hope to get this in front of the court either later this week or early next.’ The process is fraught with difficulties, however.
Police officers remove Insulate Britain activists as they block junction 31 of the M25 yesterday
Angry motorists snatch banners from protestors as activists from Insulate Britain block parts of Thurrock yesterday morning
Insulate Britain: How activists have made a mockery of the law
September 13 – 78 Insulate Britain protesters arrested after blocking junctions 3, 6, 14, 20 and 31 of the M25
September 15 – More than 50 protesters arrested after targeting junctions 1, 8, 9 and 23 of the M25
September 17 – 48 protesters arrested after targeting junctions 3, 9 and 28 of the M25, as well as the M3
September 20 – 29 protesters are arrested after blocking the M25 at junctions 4 and 18, as well as the A1
September 21 – Protesters risk death by running into moving traffic to block the carriageway near Junction 10. Some 38 arrests are made. National Highways obtains an injunction against further protests on the M25
September 22 – Protesters burn copies of the injunction outside the Home Office, blocking the road outside the ministry. No arrests are made
September 24 – 39 protesters arrested after blocking roads at three locations in Dover. They are all released under investigation. National Highways obtains a second injunction covering Dover.
September 27 – 53 protesters are arrested for blocking a slip road at Junction 14 of the M25. They are all released under investigation.
September 28 – National Highways says it is taking ‘legal advice’ over how to enforce its injunction
September 29 – 27 protesters are arrested for blocking a roundabout at Junction 3 of the M25 on two occasions
September 30 – Protesters return to junction 30 at Thurrock in Essex, and nine are arrested
October 1: The group block the M4 at junction 3, the M1 at junction 1 and M25 at junction 25. Some 39 arrests
October 2: Third injunction bans them from obstructing traffic and access to motorways and major A roads in and around London
October 4: 38 arrests after protesters block three major roads in London – the Blackwall Tunnel, Wandsworth Bridge and A40 and North Circular at Hanger Lane.
October 8: 19 arrested over protest at Old Street roundabout and a further 16 on the M25 at junction 24. Transport for London gets a High Court injunction to ban them from obstructing traffic in 14 locations in London.
October 13: Protesters return to the M25 at junction 31 and a nearby industrial estate, with 35 people arrested.
National Highways will have to apply to the High Court for committal proceedings against the activists, paperwork will have to be issued to each activist and a date for a trial will then have to be set.
If activists are found guilty of breaching an injunction they could face up to two years’ imprisonment for contempt of court.
A High Court hearing was taking place to extend the series of injunctions barring them from the M25, the Port of Dover and major A roads around London.
A further hearing is due to take place next week.
Yesterday the demonstrators ran out onto the road by traffic lights at junction 31 of the motorway near Thurrock on the north side of the Dartford Crossing which links Essex to Kent, and also close to a nearby industrial estate.
But motorists got out of their cars and dragged the protesters off the road while they were still in seated positions, with one man seen ripping Insulate Britain banners out of their hands. Essex Police made a total of 35 arrests.
A lorry driver was filmed taking his vehicle right up to the protesters, another man dragged an activist onto the pavement by his backpack, and a mother taking her son to school said she would ‘drive straight through you’.
She said: ‘Out of the way, move out of the way now. You’re taking the f***ing p**s. My son needs to get to school, I don’t care what the f***ing issue is. My son is 11, he needs to get to school today, so move out the way and let me get my son to school. Do you think I care? I’ll drive through you. You f***ing… I’ll drive straight through you.’
A woman nearby was heard saying ‘careful, careful, careful’, another man was heard pleading with her ‘don’t, don’t, don’t’ – and a protester said: ‘Are you going to kill us, are you going to kill us to get your son to school?’
Near the industrial estate in Thurrock, around 20 protesters blocked the junction to St Clements Way and London Road, forcing multiple vehicles including HGVs to stop and turn round as vehicles blasted their horns.
Motorists got out of their cars to confront protesters, who lay down in the road in front of them. Some were physically dragged out of the road but immediately returned, only to be dragged away again by the drivers.
Some 35 demonstrators were arrested across the two sites, including 16 people on the M25 and 19 near the industrial estate. The protest began at 8.25am and the force said at 11.20am that all roads had been reopened.
While Essex Police responded swiftly to the M25 element of the protest within five minutes and kept one lane open, there was criticism of their slower response to the industrial estate, which was labelled ‘shameful’.
Reporters at the scene claimed there was no sign of police at least 40 minutes after that protest began as delays continued.
At least 479 protesters have been arrested in a month – most on suspicion of obstructing a highway or conspiracy to commit public nuisance – but many drivers have taken matters into their own hands before police arrive.
This Google Maps graphic shows where the protesters affected traffic this morning (delayed sections are shown on red)
People removing an activist could try to claim protection under the Criminal Law Act 1967, which states someone may use ‘reasonable’ force to prevent crime – but this has not yet been tested in law in relation to these protests.
Ed Miliband slams climate group’s tactics as ‘counterproductive’ and risks ‘alienating’ public
Former Labour leader Ed Miliband last night hit out at Insulate Britain protesters for damaging support for their cause.
He branded the group’s tactics as ‘counterproductive’ and warned they risked ‘alienating’ the public.
The Extinction Rebellion splinter has already outraged motorists across London by blockading several motorways and A roads, leaving ambulances stuck and children late for school.
Speaking at a Green Alliance think-tank event, Mr Miliband told the Mirror: ‘Part of the task of peaceful protest is to win people to your cause, not alienate them.’
The Shadow Business Secretary compared Insulate Britain’s tactics to school strikes in 2018 led by teenage activist Greta Thunberg.
‘Some people will have said, ‘hould they really be off school?’,’ he added.
‘But it pricked people’s consciences, it drew attention to the issue, it superpowered government action, but it didn’t alienate huge swathes of people.’
Mr Miliband added that home insulation is a ‘very important agenda’ and said Labour would help fund making houses more environmentally-friendly.
Insulate Britain, an offshoot of Extinction Rebellion, yesterday marked the 13th time that it had caused disruption on motorways or A roads over the past four weeks – and their protests continued despite a series of injunctions.
Retired Anglican vicar Reverend Sue Parfitt, 79, a regular Insulate Britain and XR activist, was among those being arrested on the M25. She has already been arrested at other M25 protests on September 13, 21 and 29.
An Essex Police spokesman said yesterday: ‘We’re on scene and have made arrests following reports of people blocking the slip road of the M25 at J31 in Thurrock.
‘We were called at 8.26am and officers were on scene within five minutes. We’re trying to resolve the situation as quickly and safely as possible.’
In an update issued around 25 minutes later, the force added: ‘We’ve made 16 arrests after reports of people blocking the M25 at J31 in Thurrock.
‘Officers responded within five minutes and were able to keep one lane open. We’re now responding to people blocking the road in the Stonehouse Ln area in Purfleet.’
Then in a third update at about 11.20am, they said: ’35 people have now been arrested after we responded quickly to reports of roads blocked in Thurrock.
’16 people were arrested at J31 of the M25 while 19 were arrested in Stonehouse Ln, Purfleet. All roads are now open. Thank you for your patience and understanding.’
The group has blocked parts of major roads around London, including the M25 and M4, to draw attention to climate change.
On Tuesday protesters set light to court injunction papers that had been individually served on them, on the pavement outside the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
A High Court hearing was taking place over three injunctions granted to National Highways, covering the M25, Port of Dover and major A roads around London.
A previously-announced plan to use a catch-all injunction against Insulate Britain is understood to have hit the legal buffers.
Officials had said they planned to obtain a ‘contra mundum injunction’ with far more sweeping terms that would be easier to enforce.
But lawyers told ministers they would have to list the ‘essential nature’ of each separate motorway and A road in the country in order to secure such an injunction.
In the face of such an administrative nightmare, the idea is now thought to have been ditched.
The Mail reported last month how Insulate Britain is planning to fill Britain’s jails with hundreds of eco-activists in an attempt to create a ‘political crisis’ for PM Boris Johnson.
They believe significant numbers of activists being jailed could light a powder keg on wider disorder, in the run-up to the Cop26 environment summit in Glasgow next month.
In September, activist Shel MacDonagh said 300 individuals would need to get themselves jailed in order to force the Government to grant concessions to the group.
‘We need this campaign to continue going, and we think we need in the ballpark of 300 people to be able to face prison for us to be able to get a chance for this [a government concession] to happen,’ she said.
Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, has announced plans for a new type of Asbo to tackle the protests.
Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders – dubbed ‘Asbos for crusties’ – are intended to be quicker to enforce than injunctions.
A specific new offence will also be created to deal with protests by Insulate Britain and its parent group Extinction Rebellion.
It will be made a crime to ‘interfere with critical national infrastructure’, including major roads, railways, seaports, power stations and newspaper printing presses.
The new crime will carry up to six months’ imprisonment.
However, both new powers will have to pass through Parliament and are not expected to come into force until spring or summer next year.
Insulate Britain is run by ringleader Liam Norton, whose own home was found to have no cavity wall insulation.
Other leaders in the secretive group include Extinction Rebellion veteran David McKenny and Cathy Eastburn, whose husband was revealed to be Ben Plowden, a Transport for London director. He has stepped down from his £170,000-a-year role.
Eastburn had previously vowed to ‘unleash hell’ on drivers during her protesting, despite her long-term partner Mr Plowden’s role in charge of the Covid Restart and Recovery Scheme.
It is understood TfL bosses were aware of her views and actions, but insist it was Mr Plowden who resigned for unrelated reasons to ‘pursue new opportunities’.
The group, which is calling on the Government to insulate all homes across the UK by 2030 to help cut carbon emissions, has been protesting since September 13.
Last week Boris Johnson blasted Insulate Britain protesters as ‘irresponsible crusties’, saying the eco-zealots who have repeatedly blocked highways in recent weeks were ‘doing considerable damage to the economy’.
Home Secretary Priti Patel told the Conservative Party conference in Manchester that ‘measures already going through Parliament will ensure these criminals can be brought to justice for the disruption they are causing’.
Criminal Disruption Prevention Orders will prevent individuals from taking part in particular protests, and it will become an offence to interfere with critical national infrastructure.
It is hoped they will be quicker to enforce than the civil injunctions taken out by National Highways. Protesters could face up to two years in jail or an unlimited fine if they are found in breach of the injunctions.