Protests could de­rail Queen’s car­riage trip

Po­lice in­sist State Open­ing of Par­lia­ment will go ahead af­ter Ex­tinc­tion Re­bel­lion cam­paign closes streets

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Hay­ley Dixon, Izzy Lyons and Charles Hy­mas

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

Glas­gow

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

York

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

Shaftes­bury, Dorset

sir – If the po­lice can de­ploy 12,000 of­fi­cers for the Not­ting Hill Car­ni­val, why not for this rab­ble? Rod­er­ick Stuart

Ep­som, Sur­rey

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

Allestree, Der­byshire

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

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