London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said that protesters blocking the M25 to call for the Government to insulate homes have “got it wrong”.
While he defended the right to protest “peacefully, lawfully, safely” and said it was important to address the climate emergency, he warned the actions of Insulate Britain were not lawful or safe.
And they were not encouraging people to join the climate cause, Mr Khan said.
Commons Leader Jacob Rees-Mogg has also criticised the protesters on UK roads as “frightful old humbugs, causing trouble, distress, inconvenience and nearly causing people to die”.
Insulate Britain has shut down parts of the M25 motorway around London five times in just over a week in a bid to force the Government to insulate and retrofit homes across the UK to cut climate emissions.
The move, which has seen hundreds arrested, has prompted an angry backlash in some quarters.
The Government has successfully applied to the High Court for an order which prohibits anyone from blocking the M25 with those breaking the injunction facing a possible two years in prison or an unlimited fine.
“Democracy isn’t just voting once every five years, democracy is going on protests, going on marches, signing petitions, lobbying your MP, lobbying the mayor and so forth.
“I’m also somebody who has said loudly and clearly, there is a climate emergency, you know, climate change is really significant.
“We’ve got to make sure we address the climate emergency.”
But he said: “I think the tactics of those people who are protesting on the M25 are completely wrong.
“It’s wrong because it’s not lawful, it’s not safe.
“You’re endangering in your own life, you’re endangering the lives of those on the M25, they could be people rushing to get to a hospital, it could be they’re going to an appointment, and you’re jeopardising their safety by jumping in front of cars on the M25.”
And he warned: “You’re not encouraging people to join our cause, you’re not encouraging people to understand the importance of addressing the climate emergency.”
Mr Khan said he had been investing in insulation and retrofitting in London and had been lobbying the Government to give the capital more help to do so.
“And so notwithstanding my commitment to the right to protest, and the fact that I think we should address the climate emergency, I think they’ve got it wrong.”
In the Commons, Mr Rees-Mogg defended Britain’s tradition of freedom of speech, but said: “Peaceful protest doesn’t mean running in front of cars and risking the lives of police and meaning that people who need stroke treatment may be much more seriously debilitated than they would otherwise have been.
“It doesn’t mean people saying we should insulate our homes and not insulating their own homes, frightful old humbugs, causing trouble, distress, inconvenience and nearly causing people to die.”