Environmental protesters who disrupted Liz Truss’s conference speech before being removed by security said they were compelled to “make an intervention” in reaction to the prime minister’s policies that “nobody voted for”.
Ms Truss said “let’s get them removed” as Greenpeace protesters holding signs saying ‘who voted for this?’ interrupted her keynote speech at the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham.
Rebecca Newsom, head of public affairs at Greenpeace and one of the protesters thrown out of the Conservative Party conference, told reporters: “This year we really felt we needed to make an intervention because nobody actually voted for a lot of what Liz Truss and her government are trying to do at the moment.
“Nobody voted for fracking, nobody voted to cut benefits, nobody voted to trash nature, nobody voted to scrap workers’ rights.
“There’s a whole host of things that the Conservative government were elected to do in 2019 that they are simply not doing and we needed to take that message and represent the public and actually push for Liz Truss to remain true to what the public has actually asked her and her government to do.”
“Nobody voted for fracking, nobody voted to cut benefits, nobody voted to trash nature, nobody voted to scrap workers’ rights” – Rebecca Newsom, head of public affairs at Greenpeace and one of the protestors thrown out of the Conservative Party conference said they were representing the public
She said they were “hopeful” the government would remain committed to net zero, but policy was currently heading in the wrong direction.
Fellow protester, Ami McCarthy, also from Greenpeace, said: “With policies like the ones she’s suggesting, a focus on fracking, a focus on North Sea oil and gas, it’s absolutely not the right direction.”
Ms Newsom said the protest “was very much about the U-turn on the fracking moratorium” that the “public doesn’t want that to happen”
“You saw yourself in the video before Liz Truss walked on there was a big focus on new oil and gas in the North Sea.
“That’s not going to cut bills, that’s not going to give us energy security and it’s rubbish for the climate so absolutely we are concerned about that as well.”
Ms Newsom told reporters they were “very confident the vast majority of the public” including Tory votes would “be sympathetic” to their protest.
Greenpeace said in a post on Twitter: “Greenpeace activists have interrupted @TrussLiz speech at #CPC22 to denounce the prime minister ‘shredding’ her party’s 2019 manifesto promises.
“The PM is U-turning on fracking, strong climate action, and world-leading environmental protections.
“Who voted for this?”Ms Truss called dismissed the demonstrators as part of the “anti-growth coalition”.
“I will not allow the anti-growth coalition to hold us back,” she said after the disruption.
She continued: “Labour, the Lib Dems, the SNP, the militant unions, the vested interests dressed up as think tanks, the talking heads, the Brexit deniers, Extinction Rebellion and some of the people we had in the hall earlier.
“The fact is they prefer protesting to doing. They prefer talking on Twitter to taking tough decisions.”
The prime minister vowed fracking “will only go ahead in areas of local support”, while Mr Rees-Mogg has called opposition to the controversial practice “sheer ludditery”, and dismissed the idea of local referendums to gauge support.
Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey said it was “disappointing” Ms Truss’s speech was interrupted by protesters, but that the prime minister reaction to the interruption had “showed her resolve”.
Ms Coffey said the protesters were “exactly the sort of anti-growth coalition which she’s concerned is holding our country back.
“It didn’t hold her back today I can tell you.”
Unlike her predecessor Boris Johnson – who became an enthusiastic advocate for the cause of net zero – Ms Truss is thought to be more skeptical of the green agenda.
She has been criticised for her appointment of Jacob Rees-Mogg – who has blamed “climate alarmism” for high energy prices – as Business Secretary with overall responsibility for energy policy.
Responding to Liz Truss’ Conservative Party conference speech, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The Conservative Party conference has been a disaster for families and the economy. Liz Truss has only managed to add to the sense of failure with her speech.
“The Conservatives have lost control of the economy and this has led to eye-watering mortgage payments, soaring rates of inflation and an ever-deepening cost-of-living emergency.
“Liz Truss is out of touch and doesn’t seem to care about the damage her government is causing the country. The only way to solve this crisis is to get the Conservatives out of power and bring new hope for the country.”