Grant Shapps says some climate protesters are 'anarchists' looking to take 'extremist action'

Protesters walk through London last summer. Credit: PA

The Transport Secretary has branded some climate crisis activists as "anarchists who just want to find a basis upon which to take extremist action".

Grant Shapps added it “doesn’t make sense” for people to glue themselves to roads when protesting, or complain about HS2, when protesters want others to travel in a more eco-friendly way.

Groups like Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain have taken such measures to bring attention to the climate crisis.

Mr Shapps told the Centre Write magazine, from the centre-right think tank Bright Blue, that people should not even “try to understand” such tactics.

Insulate Britain climate activists take part in a demonstration on Lambeth Bridge in central London in November 2021. Credit: PA

Asked about how to tackle disruption from climate activism, including the Insulate Britain protests, Mr Shapps said: “Unsurprisingly there’s a little loophole in the law that makes it difficult to directly prosecute people gluing themselves to the road. That is being fixed through the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.”

He added: “We will always look to take action to protect hardworking Brits who want to get around.

"It’s inexcusable, as there are perfectly legitimate legal routes you can follow to protest or to make change happen, but gluing yourself to a road isn’t one of them, and doesn’t even really stack up because they’re actually going on about insulating houses.”

Mr Shapps was also asked about “so-called climate activists and environmentalists in the political sphere”, who have criticised the likes of HS2.

“A lot of these people are basically just anarchists who just want to find a basis upon which to take extremist action,” he said.

“This is why gluing yourself to a road when you’re actually talking about insulating homes, or complaining about HS2 when you claim to want to allow people to travel in a more environmentally friendly way, doesn’t make sense. We shouldn’t try to understand it.

“If what you want to do is dig a tunnel and live in it to protest, the pretext is not what’s important to them. Clearly HS2 is a massive project, it’s the biggest building construction project in Europe. It’s also the most environmentally friendly large building project there has ever been.”

An anti-HS2 protester is removed from a tree. Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA

Last week, Downing Street defended measures to tackle protesters’ “guerrilla tactics” after peers gutted the legislation with a series of defeats for the government.

Home Secretary Priti Patel accused peers of siding with “vandals and thugs” after a string of defeats saw the House of Lords reject controversial measures designed to combat the tactics adopted by groups including Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.

No 10 said it would reflect on the mauling delivered by peers, but the government could use its Commons majority to overturn the defeats inflicted in the unelected chamber.