Insulate Britain apologises for disruption as PM labels climate activists 'irresponsible crusties'

ITV News Political Reporter Shehab Khan reports on the protesters who have been causing major disruption in the name of climate change

Insulate Britain has "profoundly apologised" for their recent disruption which brought parts of the country to a standstill thanks to road blockades.

A spokesperson for the climate activists said they would not "undertake such acts under normal circumstances" but they believed "the reality of the situation has to be faced".

Earlier on Tuesday Prime Minister Boris Johnson labelled the group “irresponsible crusties” and added they have been "doing considerable damage to the economy".

The climate crisis activists have blocked major UK roads in the south-east over the past three weeks, including the M25, M4 and M1.

Police officers detain a protester from Insulate Britain occupying a roundabout leading from the M25 motorway to Heathrow Airport. Credit: PA

More than 100 Insulate Britain protesters were served with an injunction against road-blocking demonstrations on Tuesday at the High Court in London.

The case was adjourned until next Tuesday for a hearing expected to last two to three hours – where members of Insulate Britain may be able to make legal arguments.

Speaking outside the High Court, Insulate Britain spokesperson Liam Norton said: "Insulate Britain wishes to profoundly apologise for the disruption caused over the past three weeks.

"We cannot imagine undertaking such acts in normal circumstances. But we believe that the reality of our situation has to be faced.

"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."

The apology comes a day after the group were labelled "selfish" by a frustrated driver after they blocked the Blackwall Tunnel in London.

In emotional scenes, the woman pleaded with the demonstrators to let her through to see her mother who she said was in hospital.

On Tuesday morning, Mr Johnson told LBC: “There are some people who call those individuals legitimate protesters.

“They are not. I think they are irresponsible crusties who are basically trying to stop people going about their day’s work and doing considerable damage to the economy."

His comments come ahead of Home Secretary Priti Patel’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday, in which she laid out new measures to deal with demonstrators deemed to be disruptive.

Ms Patel, speaking at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, told members: “It is because of our commitment to putting the needs of the hard-working, often silent, majority first that I will not tolerate so called eco-warriors trampling over our way of life and draining police resources.

“Their actions over recent weeks have amounted to some of the most self-defeating ‘environmental’ protests this country has ever seen. Freedom to protest is a fundamental right our party will forever fight to uphold. But it must be within the law.

“Measures already going through Parliament will ensure these criminals can be brought to justice for the disruption they are causing.

“But we are going further to close down the legal loopholes exploited by these offenders.

“So, today, I can announce I will also increase the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway, criminalise interference with key infrastructure such as roads, railways and our free press, and give the police and courts new powers to deal with the small minority of offenders intent on travelling around the country, causing disruption and misery across our communities.”