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Keir Starmer opposes Rishi Sunak’s plan to widen police crackdown on road-blocking eco-protesters

Labor refuses to support another government crackdown on eco-zealous protesters, saying the police already have enough powers to get them off the streets.

Sir Keir Starmer lashed out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over his plan to empower officers to stop ‘go-slow’ protests before they cause chaos on the country’s roads.

A law being proposed by ministers would end new forms of “guerrilla tactics” used by eco-zeavers from groups such as Just Stop Oil, after forces became aware of their attempts to glue themselves to the pavement.

Mr Sunak said the legislation would strike a better balance between the right to protest and “the right of the hardworking majority to go about their daily business”.

Sir Keir branded the group – which made headlines for blocking roads to all traffic, including ambulances – as ‘wrong and very arrogant’, but said the problem could be solved under current police powers.

In a phone call on LBC radio, he also defended Labor’s acceptance of hundreds of thousands of pounds from Dale Vince, a green power millionaire who also funded Just Stop Oil.

He said the donations, including £20,000 towards his 2020 leadership campaign, would not stop him from criticizing the group.

Sir Keir Starmer Lashed Out At Prime Minister Rishi Sunak Over His Plan To Empower Officers To Stop 'Go-Slow' Protests Before They Cause Chaos On The Country'S Roads.

Sir Keir Starmer lashed out at Prime Minister Rishi Sunak over his plan to empower officers to stop ‘go-slow’ protests before they cause chaos on the country’s roads.

In A Phone Call On Lbc Radio, He Also Defended Labor'S Acceptance Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Pounds From Dale Vince, A Green Power Millionaire Who Also Funded Just Stop Oil.

In A Phone Call On Lbc Radio, He Also Defended Labor'S Acceptance Of Hundreds Of Thousands Of Pounds From Dale Vince, A Green Power Millionaire Who Also Funded Just Stop Oil.

In a phone call on LBC radio, he also defended Labor’s acceptance of hundreds of thousands of pounds from Dale Vince, a green power millionaire who also funded Just Stop Oil.

1673868240 983 Keir Starmer Opposes Rishi Sunaks Plan To Widen Police Crackdown

1673868240 983 Keir Starmer Opposes Rishi Sunaks Plan To Widen Police Crackdown

Mr Sunak said the legislation would strike a better balance between the right to protest and “the right of the hardworking majority to go about their daily business”.

Sir Keir told LBC: “I am as strong as anyone in the argument that we should take action against Just Stop Oil – stick yourself to the road, take those actions, stop ambulances – wrong, deeply arrogant and I want the police to trade.’

But he added that police wanted “clarity” on the law: “If I were Prime Minister … what would I do instead of more regulatory legislation, I would bring the chiefs into a room, have them sit with me and say’ well, what’s the problem?’

“Because I don’t accept that if you’re walking at a funeral pace that doesn’t impede the highway and I think if the police were told in terms, ‘yes, that’s an offence, go ahead and do something about it’ they could do something about it tomorrow morning.’

Meanwhile, Labor colleague Baroness Chakrabarti warned that the ‘draconian’ Public Order Act could treat all peaceful dissent as ‘actually terrorism’.

The former shadow attorney general and ex-director of civil rights group Liberty told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘The police already have sufficient powers to arrest and turn people over when they block the motorway.

The 61-Year-Old Vegan Owner Of Forest Green Rovers Football Club Has Donated £360,000 To Labor Through His Energy Company Ecotricity Since The Last Election.

The 61-Year-Old Vegan Owner Of Forest Green Rovers Football Club Has Donated £360,000 To Labor Through His Energy Company Ecotricity Since The Last Election.

The 61-year-old vegan owner of Forest Green Rovers football club has donated £360,000 to Labor through his energy company Ecotricity since the last election.

“This, I fear, treats all peaceful dissent as effective terrorism and this bill is very similar to anti-terror legislation that we have seen in the past.

“This degree of precedence will actually shut down what doesn’t even cause disruption at all, because their definition sets such a low bar.”

Last week, multi-millionaire eco-warrior Dale Vince spoke of helping fund Just Stop Oil as he poured thousands of pounds into the Labor Party.

Mr Vince said he has donated to the opposition ‘to help them win, to help them in government so they have a chance to implement their agenda, which is my agenda, social justice and a green economy’ .

The 61-year-old vegan owner of Forest Green Rovers football club has donated £360,000 to the party through his energy company Ecotricity since the last election.

He gave Sir Keir £20,000 for his leadership bid in 2020 and £10,000 to deputy leader Angela Rayner. He has also given money to the Green Party and Greenpeace.

But he is also one of Just Stop Oil’s largest individual backers, tell Sky News he donated “tens of thousands of pounds” to launch the group, and more last November when it ran into funding problems.

He said he disagreed with their tactics at times, but added, “I understand why they do what they do. It’s what they have in their power to do.”

Mr Starmer said today that accepting the money would not prevent him from criticizing Just Stop Oil.

It comes after climate protesters shifted tactics in recent weeks to slow down traffic with walking protests on busy roads through cities.

1673868240 249 Keir Starmer Opposes Rishi Sunaks Plan To Widen Police Crackdown

1673868240 249 Keir Starmer Opposes Rishi Sunaks Plan To Widen Police Crackdown

Police will have the power to stop ‘go-slow’ protests before they cause chaos under a law proposed by ministers

Just Stop Oil activists led walking protests in London during rush hour last month, blocking three lanes on either side of the A2, in Southwark, before launching a similar blockade across the city.

Downing Street said an amendment to the Public Order Act will be tabled in the coming days.

This will broaden the legal definition of ‘serious disturbance’, giving the police more options and clarity about when to intervene.

Under the proposed change, if a slow walk begins and officers judge it could cause serious disruption, they can shut it down before chaos erupts. They will first be able to put conditions on the slow walk, forcing it to continue on the sidewalk instead.

If protesters refuse, officers could remove them. The idea would be that potential incidents would be dealt with in minutes instead of hours.

The police also do not have to treat a series of protests by the same group as isolated incidents, but can consider their overall impact. This also applies to long-running campaigns designed to cause repeated interruptions over days or weeks.

Mr Sunak said: ‘The right to demonstrate is a fundamental principle of our democracy, but it is not absolute. A balance must be struck between the rights of individuals and the rights of the hard-working majority to go about their day-to-day business.’

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act, passed last year, aimed to limit disruptive protests by increasing sentencing.

Sir Mark Rowley, head of the Metropolitan Police Service, said he was ‘welcomed’ with the proposed amendment, which is currently before the House of Lords. He said: ‘In practice, providing such clarity by Parliament will create a clearer line for police to enforce when protests affect others who simply want to go about their legal business.’

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