Protests could derail Queen’s carriage trip
Police insist State Opening of Parliament will go ahead after Extinction Rebellion campaign closes streets
Extinction Rebellion protests could force the Queen to abandon her traditional carriage trip to open Parliament, police have suggested. Officers have told those leading the demonstrations that the State Opening of Parliament cannot take place if they are camped on the streets. However, Scotland Yard said it had “contingency plans”. As protests continued into a third day yesterday, an additional 500 officers were brought in from across England and Wales.
EXTINCTION Rebellion protests could force the Queen to abandon her traditional carriage trip to open Parliament, police have suggested.
Officers have told those leading the demonstrations that the State Opening of Parliament cannot take place if they are camped on the streets. However, Scotland Yard admitted that it had “contingency plans”.
As demonstrations continued into a third day yesterday, shutting down roads in Westminster, an additional 500 officers were brought in from forces across England and Wales.
The Metropolitan Police said victims of other crimes were paying the price because officers were being diverted to the climate change protests. More than 600 demonstrators have been arrested and 80 tons of equipment seized.
Yesterday, Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, addressed protestors to offer his support, telling them they “have exactly the right thing in mind”.
Asked about his son’s description of demonstrators as “crusties”, Mr Johnson said: “I wear that badge with pride.”
Police are targeting the route of the royal procession to try to clear streets ahead of the state opening on Monday.
Laurence Taylor, the Met’s Dept Asst Commissioner, insisted officers would ensure the event took place and “contingency plans” had been made.
However, it emerged last night that officers had told protesters security operations should have already begun and the event cannot take place if demonstrators remain where they are.
Paolo Enock, who has spent months liaising with Scotland Yard on behalf of Extinction Rebellion, said the demonstrators had no intention of disrupting the state opening, insisting: “We do not want to impede any democratic process in any way.”
Protesters have offered to move their tents, but police are insisting that they can only camp in Trafalgar Square, which the demonstrators say is impossible with their numbers.
Mr Enock said: “The police have said that our presence at all, anywhere but in Trafalgar Square, is impeding the security operation necessary for the State Opening of Parliament to take place.”
Representatives from Extinction Rebellion are hoping to meet officers this morning to try to find a compromise.
Royal sources have said the Queen intends to travel in her carriage. However, Simon Morgan, a former royal protection officer, said it was possible that those dealing with “threat and risk management” could advise her to swap to an armoured car, as a carriage “might not be an option on this occasion”.
In 2017, in the wake of terror attacks at Westminster and on London Bridge, the Queen travelled part of the way in an armoured Bentley.
Mr Taylor said police were targeting 12 sites and had cleared six, describing the operation as “very robust”.
“The Met is a very large organisation. We will cope. But there is no doubt it is having an impact on our policing operation more widely,” he said.
A Government source said the demonstrators were using the tactics of “hardened protesters”, adding: “They will have two people in the tents. You cut the tent away and it is not just handcuffs. They will … have their arms in a big plastic tube filled with metal wire which has then been filled with concrete that has set … if you tried to stand them up their arms would break.
Protesters are planning to begin a three-day blockade of London City Airport this morning. Police said they would deal with them “proactively”.
sir – We are all rightly concerned about climate change, but for a group such as Extinction Rebellion to dictate to the rest of the population through extreme acts of “defiance” goes too far.
What we are witnessing in London is not peaceful protest; it is designed to disrupt. Any public support will dissipate rapidly if it continues. Dr Gerald Edwards
sir – Were I to erect a scaffold tower or anything else on one of London’s bridges, I would soon be arrested – so how is it that the current rent-a-mob is not treated in the same way?
Demonstrating is one thing; the building of structures, parking of boats and other disruptive tactics are entirely different. Anthony Pilling
sir – It is regrettable that Extinction Rebellion is betraying its own cause by using tired old tactics of protest.
By blocking the Queen’s highways and stopping people going about their lawful business, protesters make it too easy for onlookers to dismiss them. They need far more subtle tactics and better speakers to get the attention of those who can and will make a difference, and at the same time win to their ranks ever wider support from the consumer in the market place. Anne Booth
sir – If the police can deploy 12,000 officers for the Notting Hill Carnival, why not for this rabble? Roderick Stuart
sir – When I was an actual hippy, I spent many hours trying to be a free spirit and getting the older generation off my back. Now we have young people bossing us about and telling us how virtuous we need to be. These neo-puritans need more peace and love, and less certainty in their lives. Philip Saunders
Bungay, Suffolk sir – Extinction Rebellion’s key demand for carbon neutrality by 2025 is completely unrealistic. Even if it were possible and desirable, it would make no difference to man-made climate change, given that Britain contributes so little to the problem. Andy Brown
sir – If Extinction Rebellion is so worried about climate change, why does it bring cities around the world to a standstill?
All those vehicles caught in traffic jams because of closed roads and bridges will make the problem they are shouting about far worse. Maureen Fox-davis
Great Bookham, Surrey
sir – Could the Mayor of London ask Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old campaigner, to sail over to Britain to tell these protesters that they are undoing all her good work? Jeremy Nicholas
Great Bardfield, Essex
Stanley Johnson, the Prime Minister’s father, addresses demonstrators to offer his support. Left, police officers follow activists with a large pink octopus in Whitehall