Claire Perry held meetings with the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group at a climate change conference in Poland in November
A Business Minister was last night facing questions about why she met members of a radical environmental group which is plotting to paralyse
Claire Perry held meetings with the Extinction Rebellion (XR) group at a
Ms Perry told The Mail on Sunday she had a ‘good and productive chat’ with the activists, who have links to Labour’s far-Left Momentum faction and are preparing a new onslaught of civil disobedience and criminality conceived with military precision to bring Britain to its knees.
It comes as an undercover investigation by this newspaper has revealed a hardcore movement determined to turn the clock back to a life without fossil fuel – and usurping Parliamentary democracy in the process.
The first stage of their global ‘Rebellion Week’ begins tomorrow and involves a plot to paralyse central London for at least three days, creating human barricades at five key points: Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Waterloo Bridge, Parliament Square and Piccadilly Circus.
Some protesters are even planning to super-glue their hands to objects in the road and each other, requiring specially trained police officers to laboriously unstick them using chemicals.
Ms Perry met members of the group at a summit in Katowice. She said: ‘We had a good and productive chat and have been in correspondence since.’
Organisers have talked of up to 30,000 eco-activists attending mass protests – and crucially many of them being arrested.
The protests have been seven months in the planning.
Their goal is to shut down vital roads and transport links, causing misery for millions of commuters and keeping over-stretched police officers busy for hours.
Ms Perry told The Mail on Sunday she had a ‘good and productive chat’ with the activists, who have links to Labour’s far-Left Momentum faction
Behind it all lies a chilling manifesto, with the prime goal for the Government to reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. The result of this would return Britain more or less to the Dark Ages.
XR was founded just a few months ago but has rapidly grown into a vast global organisation, with more than a hundred groups across Britain. Last November, they blocked bridges across London to bring chaos to the capital. In February, they took part in a nationwide school strike in which thousands of children were urged to miss lessons for a day and take to the streets in protest.
And on April 1, during one of the Brexit debates, a group of them stripped off in the Commons to stage a ‘cheeky protest’ about climate change policy.
Founder who became activist after taking psychedelic drugs
Wiltshire mother and ‘neo-pagan’ Gail Bradbrook
Extinction Rebellion is the latest of several campaigns to be organised and partly financed through a private limited company called Compassionate Revolution.
One of its directors – and a key figure in ‘XR’ – is Wiltshire mother and ‘neo-pagan’ Gail Bradbrook, 47, who said on a recent podcast that she decided to become an activist as a direct result of taking huge doses of two powerful psychedelic drugs.
Despite the damage caused by air travel, she flew to Costa Rica to take a dose of ibogaine, a hallucinogenic shrub growing in West Africa. She also tried ayahuasca, a highly toxic, mind-bending potion made by Amazon jungle shamans. Bradbrook, left, who has a PhD in molecular biophysics, says the drugs ‘rewired’ her brain and gave her ‘the codes of social change’.
Afterwards, she ended her marriage and began her activism in XR. Within XR, she holds mystic ‘moon circles’ with female colleagues inside a tepee, at which they ingest another ‘natural’ drug, mugwort, used by ancient Celts.
She has warned that warming in the Arctic is likely to cause ‘the collapse of the food system’ in just three years – a belief no scientist would endorse.
She has also said she ‘does not condemn’ protesters who ‘choose to damage property in order to protect nature’, although she personally prefers non-violence.
The end goal is revolution through civil disobedience – to bring the Government to the table to discuss climate change objectives.
XR wants to break up the political class and replace representative democracy with a process called sortition – in which randomly selected people, without reference to ability or training, would be appointed as decision makers in a People’s Assembly.
Among the prominent figures in XR is Left-wing academic Roger Hallam, whose stated ambition for the group is to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world and replace them’, starting with Britain.
Hallam, 52, said in a recent YouTube video setting out his strategy: ‘The conventional forms of activism are no good. The emailing, going on marches… doesn’t work.
‘You need about 400 to go to prison and you need two to three thousand people to get arrested.
‘You win through fearlessness. This is not some pretty process where everyone’s going to be fine, but it’s better than violence.’
Another XR member, Tamsin Omond, is a former public schoolgirl and granddaughter of a baronet who is a veteran of Left-wing protest groups, including Occupy London.
Co-founder Stuart Basden says global warming is only ‘a symptom of a toxic system’ and likened prison to ‘boarding school’ as he urged XR followers to break the law.
Their creed has proved irresistible to Extinction Rebellion’s celebrity supporters, with actress Emma Thompson appearing in a video calling on people to take to the streets. Former Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams has also given his support.
A source close to Ms Perry – who is senior enough to attend Cabinet – said she had ‘tried to convince the group that the UK is leading the way in reducing climate emissions and that the Government was listening and acting’.
The source added: ‘She asked them what their solutions were, and they told her that she should “declare a war” on climate change.
‘She replied that she understood the need for urgency, but believed you don’t start wars if you don’t have either weapons or tactics. She will meet anyone who is passionate about cutting emissions and who has ideas we can implement.’
XR grew out of an activist group called ‘Rising Up!’ – which tried unsuccessfully to stop the expansion of Heathrow. Its financial support comes from philanthropic foundations and crowdfunding. Their online crowdfunder, launched in October, has raised £166,000.
Last night a member of Extinction Rebellion denied that the movement planned to ‘usurp Parliamentary democracy’ but rather expected the ‘inevitable breakdown of the current system’.
Who’s ready to get arrested? Reporter goes undercover with the eco-activist group Extinction Rebellion – and finds they are as ruthlessly professional as they are deluded
Special report by Holly Bancroft for the Mail on Sunday
Cigarette break: XR training volunteer Clare Farrell
I’m sitting in a cavernous community hall in East London with a group of eco-activists huddled in thick jackets against the cold.
We’re being drilled for our arrest – like soldiers being trained for capture and interrogation by the enemy.
Our tutor is a sixtysomething woman with fuzzy white hair who knows all about civil disobedience and its legal consequences.
She explains passionately that we must not speak to the police, other than to give our name and date of birth.
We must not get drunk before the ‘action’ in just a few days’ time.
And we should consider wearing adult nappies – in case we’re locked up for hours in a police van with no access to a lavatory. Or if we decide to chain ourselves to railings, barriers or whatever else to cause maximum disruption.
Welcome to Extinction Rebellion (XR), the revolutionary protest group hell-bent on eliminating fossil fuels from Britain.
To achieve this, they are planning an onslaught of civil disobedience on a scale rarely seen in this country. And I’m here undercover as a new recruit, or ‘rebel’ as they call it.
My induction took place late last month in an anonymous office block near Euston station. I’m told XR was given the space for free by a well-placed sympathiser.
A lift takes me to the fourth floor – an open-plan space with a smattering of desks and some 40 new recruits, an even mix of male and female, all casually dressed.
A handmade poster by the lifts is daubed ‘Eco not Ego’. A large sign warns us to avoid ‘suppression juice’ – that’s alcohol – so we can ‘rebel with a clear body and mind’. Brightly coloured banners hang from the ceiling – ‘No Brexit in a dead planet’, says one – while a giant papier-mâché skeleton of some big beast lies, under construction, in the corner.
This introductory meeting is led by a bearded XR activist called Greg, who lives in a squat in West London with other members of the group. His first move is to lead us in an awkward ‘ice breaker’. Sitting in rows on school chairs, we’re instructed to stick both arms in the air and waggle from side to side, chanting ‘woo-hoo’.
Preparing for action: A photo of an XR meeting taken by our undercover reporter. There is no suggestion those pictured are all intending to break the law
Then comes a minute’s silence for ‘the dying planet’. Struggling not to laugh, I bowed my head with the others, eyes down.
‘Devote some of your brain to imagining the kind of world you want to create,’ says Greg. ‘To get through this struggle together, we need to hold tight to our dream.’
We’re asked to think of one word to describe the world we want – and shouts of ‘harmony’, ‘sharing’ and ‘green’ come from around the room. ‘Courageous’, mutters a boy in a long beige trench coat sitting next to me.
Questions follow. The volunteers are keen, but concerned.
A charity worker with short blonde hair says she is worried about XR’s policy of deliberately getting arrested.
Not that she’s against breaking the law – just that it might deter volunteers who cannot take the risk of getting into trouble.
Eating her dinner from a Tupperware box, another young woman raises concerns about XR’s links to Labour’s hard-Left Momentum faction. George agrees XR and Momentum have a good relationship.
‘Training session’: XR potential recruits Greg, left, and George
Then we are told to get in a long line, arranged in order of willingness to get arrested. It is time to hone our tactics and strategy for the forthcoming ‘rebellion week’ – which starts tomorrow.
‘Move around the room according to what you feel,’ says Naomi, one of the lead activists.
‘The question is this: how arrestable are you in XR?’
A handful immediately place themselves at one end of the room, the extreme that signifies: ‘Yes, I really wish to be arrested right now.’ A few walk to the opposite side, meaning: ‘Absolutely not.’
Middle-class zealots who’ll make Monday a misery for millions
The most prominent – and radical – of the XR leaders is failed organic farmer and PhD student Roger Hallam
Failed farmer wants a world revolution
The most prominent – and radical – of the XR leaders is failed organic farmer and PhD student Roger Hallam.
After years in a succession of Left-wing groups, the 52-year-old says the ‘name of the game’ for XR is to ‘bring down all the regimes in the world and replace them’. Hallam (above) says paralysing traffic will eventually cause food shortages and trigger uprisings.
In a recent interview, he said XR protesters should be ready to cause disruption through personal ‘sacrifice’. If necessary, they ‘should be willing to die’.
XR co-founder Stuart Basden, 36, a middle-class writer from Bristol
Co-founder says jail’s like boarding school
XR co-founder Stuart Basden, 36, a middle-class writer from Bristol (above), has goals that go way beyond a desire to curb global warming.
Indeed, he has claimed: ‘XR isn’t about the climate. You see, the climate’s breakdown is a symptom of a toxic system that has infected the ways we relate to each other as humans and to all life.’
Basden has urged XR followers to embrace going to prison – where he spent a week after defacing London’s City Hall with spray paint last year – saying it is ‘a bit like boarding school’
Tasmin Osmond, 35, is a veteran of ‘direct actions’
Veteran campaigner from baronet family
Tasmin Osmond, 35, is a veteran of ‘direct actions’ which had little to do with climate change, such as Occupy London, the poverty protest which set up a camp outside St Paul’s cathedral in 2011.
The granddaughter of Dorset baronet Sir Thomas Lees, Omond (above) went to Westminster School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where she read English.
She was thrown out of anti-aviation group Plane Stupid after saying the green movement ‘brand’ was ‘unwashed, unshaven and up a tree’, and this ‘doesn’t represent me’.
George Barda, 43, believes the ‘Criminal UK Government’ is to blame for climate change
Student who’s on Putin’s TV channel
George Barda, 43, believes the ‘Criminal UK Government’ is to blame for climate change.
A post-graduate student at prestigious King’s College in London, the son of classical music and stage photographer Clive Barda still finds time to be a dedicated revolutionary and camped outside St Paul’s cathedral in the Occupy London campaign.
Today, Barda (above) is a director of XR parent company Compassionate Revolution and regularly appears on Russia Today, Russia’s controversial British TV channel.
I’m with the majority shuffling around in the middle amid embarrassed laughter. This position says: ‘Maybe, let’s think about it.’
They ask us how far we’ll go. Will we commit a litany of protest crimes – smashing windows, defacing buildings? Will we glue ourselves to doors or block roads using ‘swarming’ – sitting down for a few minutes at a time to stop traffic?
‘I’m comfortable with spray paint that permanently damages but not breaking windows,’ states a woman in her 30s from a refugee charity.
‘I’m somewhere between the permanent spray paint and the chalk spray paint,’ says a man studying for a PhD in environmental activism. ‘They can’t charge you with criminal damage if you use chalk paint.’
After an hour or so, we’re all split up into what they call ‘affinity’ groups based on how radical they judge us to be. They don’t seem to think I’m very revolutionary.
Roles are assigned for the forthcoming ‘action’. Our group has a ‘wellbeing co-ordinator’, a ‘legal observer’ and a ‘media organiser’.
How far would we go for the movement? A Scottish actress in her 20s tells us she’s planning to recruit her mother. ‘I think I’d be OK with being arrested,’ she adds. ‘It’s just that I’m so in and out of the country, I work between here and Paris. I don’t know if I would be able to make my court date, so I don’t know if it would work out.’
Another young woman, a university student, says she’ll bring her harp along to keep us entertained during ‘rebellion week’. Before the meeting breaks up, the organisers call for mature women willing to be trained as ‘de-escalators’.
These are the people asked to calm down frustrated members of the public, particularly drivers, trapped in the traffic jams we’re going to cause.
Then the evening comes to a conclusion with repeated chants of ‘Extinction… Rebellion’ from the hardened activists, who then treat us to an impromptu and utterly excruciating dance.
A beat box starts blaring, one long-haired man sways expansively, arms waving out of time, the others jig about. I leave, armed with XR stickers and posters to plaster on the streets.
The group gives me constant updates through the WhatsApp messaging system, and a few days later I’m back in the office block for another training session. This time, it’s altogether more alarming.
An activist in her 20s called Jess lays out XR’s terrifying vision of the future: ‘We want to build a structure, a community and test prototypes for the coming structural collapse of the regimes of Western democracies. And we see this as inevitable – this has to happen.’
Now, we’re drawn further into the plans for illegal protest, and made to take part in role-play scenarios of activists clashing with the police.
The golden rule is to stay silent when confronted by police – unless we quote from a self-righteous prepared statement outlining our supposed right to break the law as a ‘conscientious protector’ of Planet Earth.
And we must never, ever identify any of the XR organisers in case they are charged with inciting illegal activities.
Activists who plan to ‘lock on’ by super-gluing themselves to public property are warned to expect a long wait, as few police officers are trained to dissolve the glue.
The hope is to cause the maximum amount of chaos. They might even have activists locked on at five separate protest points in London. If we are seized by the police, we must make our bodies go floppy, to tie up more officers as they attempt to carry us away.
I endure a further marathon training session at a climbing centre in North London.
We’re being addressed by the white-haired lady, who I now know is press officer Jayne Forbes. Stating her own readiness for martyrdom and jail, she tells us that: ‘I’m an older person with no responsibilities.
‘I’m prepared to go to prison and I think we are privileged in this country to have prisons that are relatively acceptable.
‘If I was living in Brazil or something, I could get killed as an activist. Our prisons are not bad compared to many in the world.’
She tells us never to agree to a caution because that would be ‘an admission of guilt’.
We must never accept the help of a duty solicitor because they would be ‘pally with the police’. I’m learning a great deal.
We’re advised only to bring an old-fashioned ‘burner’ mobile phone to the protest in case the police want to seize the device as evidence.
I’m told a paperback will help me while away the long hours in a police cell – and that I can ask for up to three blankets from the custody officers.
I now have a list of ‘friendly’ solicitors on a small sheet of paper reminding me of my legal rights. Can we get vegan food in prison? XR thinks the answer is ‘yes’.
By the time I say my goodbyes, I’m truly worried. If this week goes according to plan for Extinction Rebellion, I know that many of its members will be only too delighted to learn first-hand about the inside of our police cells and our prisons – believing they have come one step closer to making their dangerous plan a reality.