Parliament targeted: Speaker’s Chair in Commons taken over by Extinction Rebellion
Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) UK, including at least one member of XR Cambridge, protested at the Houses of Parliament today, chaining themselves to rails outside the building and supergluing themselves around the Speaker’s Chair with the message ‘Citizen’s Assembly Now’.
The action began at 11.45am when around 50 protesters kicked off the environmental activism group’s September plans.
Three members of XR UK booked in for an official tour of the building – Parliament is currently in recess until next week – and proceed to superglue themselves together around the Speaker’s Chair. They then took it in turns to read a speech, pointing to the need for a Citizens’ Assembly “to cut through the corruption deep in the heart of Westminster”. They wore t-shirts that read ‘Let The People Decide’.
A member of XR Cambridge told the Cambridge Independent: “Around 50 people were let in, most left the building later. Among those outside was Donald [Bell, a long-term activist for XR Cambridge, pictured above].
“There were at least seven arrests, including two protesters who used D-locks to chain themselves to the railings outside, and those who were glued to each other in a circle around the Speaker’s Chair. One person climbed scaffolding around Parliament.”
Everyone inside the building had entered legally via an official tourist booking.
The speech read out in the chamber said: “We are in crisis. And what goes on in this chamber every day makes a joke out of us all. We can not afford to carry on like this.
“It is possible to act on climate and costs in a way that is fair and supports everyone. But our political system is too out of date and out of touch to see beyond the next election cycle and do what needs to be done. We need a new way of making decisions, where more voices are heard, not just those at the top. We need the true diversity of the country to be represented.
“We need a Citizens’ Assembly, now. Citizens’ Assemblies empower ordinary people to make decisions that benefit everyone. Decisions that can get us out of this mess and make life better, safer, fairer for all of us.”
While a new Prime Minister is being chosen by a fraction of the country’s citizenry, and the UK suffering from a cost of living scandal meaning millions won’t be able to pay their bills this winter, Parliament has been in recess.
XR UK Says: “There is an urgent need to upgrade our political system to allow more representation and give ordinary people a say over the major crises facing us.
“In July this year the high court ruled that the UK Government’s pathway to net zero is unlawful because it is so lacking in detail it’s not even possible to hold them to account on it. Yet both candidates for PM have said they plan to increase production of new fossil fuels.”
The climate emergency group has shifted its position over the summer towards a realisation that the existing system is so broken that only a radical new political order can resolve the crisis the country is facing.
Alanna Byrne of Extinction Rebellion said: “To create a new, fairer politics will require first thousands, then millions of us. It will require sustained culture-shifting civil disobedience, until we become impossible to ignore. Then, when there’s enough of us, positive change will become inevitable.”
Further protests in London are planned starting next week. At the time of writing Donald Bell was not responding to requests for comment, and the Metropolitan Police said it would have a statement on the protest “soon”.