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Thursday August 11, 2022

Green activists disrupt UK PM hopeful Truss at hustings

By AFP
August 06, 2022

LONDON: Activists angered by global warming and the cost of living crisis on Friday interrupted a speech by Liz Truss, the favourite to become the UK’s next Conservative prime minister.

Shouting protesters briefly interrupted Truss, currently foreign minister, at a hustings in the southern seaside town of Eastbourne. Neither she nor her rival Rishi Sunak has made global warming a campaign focus.

An online live feed of the hustings on the Conservative Party website was briefly turned off due to the protest. Sky News reported that the five activists were from a group called Green New Deal Rising and shouted slogans including "Shame on you!"

One ejected activist, Fatima Ibrahim, told Sky News that the protesters are "angry young people". She said the activists "are tired of candidates who avoid the real crisis and the only answer they give is tax breaks to their rich mates and the likes of BP and Shell while the rest of us are told to tighten our belts".

The group with more than 28,000 followers on Twitter says that it is a "movement of young people fighting to stop the climate crisis". It tweeted later that its activists confronted Truss over "her shameful role in the cost of living crisis".

"Millions will face huge energy bills this winter, while her Government backs climate wreckers like BP & Shell making BILLIONS," the group said. Truss linked the protest with the Extinction Rebellion climate activist group, telling the audience that if she becomes prime minister, "I will make sure that militant activists such as Extinction Rebellion are not able to disrupt ordinary people who work hard and do the right thing and go into work."

She added: "I will never ever allow our democracy to be disrupted by unfair protests." If she becomes prime minister, Truss has vowed to suspend green levies on energy bills. Sunak has said he would maintain the levies.

Both say they are committed to Britain’s legally binding targets to reduce carbon emission to net zero by 2050. Sunak said at Friday’s hustings that he was "passionate about the environment that we live in" and wants to achieve the net zero target "in a measured way" without "racing there harder and faster than any other country".Meanwhile, former Conservative health minister Sajid Javid announced on Wednesday his support for Liz Truss as the UK's next Conservative prime minister, adding to the roster of senior Tories backing her leadership bid.

Javid resigned as Health Secretary in Boris Johnson's government in early July at the same time as Truss' rival, Rishi Sunak, quit as Chancellor of the Exchequer, leading to a wave of resignations.

Javid said in an article published in The Times on Wednesday evening that the new prime minister would need to swiftly reunite the party and show "we are rising to the challenges of our times". "After careful consideration it is clear to me that Liz Truss is best placed to pass these tests," he wrote. He said that Truss had "sharp focus and willingness to challenge the status quo".

Challenging Sunak's approach to the economy, he said that "the circumstances we are now in require a new approach" and "not cutting taxes carries an even greater risk". Truss is backed by the bookmakers to win and has secured heavyweight endorsement from Tories including some, who like Javid, earlier threw their hats into the race.

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