Eight arrests have been made after climate protesters glued themselves in a chain around the Speaker’s chair in the chamber of the House of Commons.
Extinction Rebellion said its supporters launched the protest in parliament in support of a “citizens’ assembly” to help deliver action on the climate crisis.
The campaign group tweeted a photo showing three women standing hand-in-hand in front of the green leather chair where the Speaker sits when parliament is in session. Two men stood either side holding banners.
The group wrote: “Extinction Rebellion supporters have superglued around the Speaker’s chair inside the Commons chamber. Right now inside parliament a speech is being read out demanding a citizens’ assembly now.”
The text of the speech read: “We are in crisis. We cannot 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 But our political system is too out of date and out of touch to see beyond the next election cycle and do what needs to be done.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.”
At the same time, two protesters D-locked themselves by their necks to the railings outside parliament. According to XR, another activist scaled the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben and held a giant banner that read: “Let the people decide: citizens’ assemblies now”.
The Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, said it was “a real shame” that visitors who had booked tours around parliament had visits disrupted and cancelled. “Despite the disruption, democratic tours will take place tomorrow,” Hoyle said.
“A joint investigation into the incident will take place between police and parliamentary security, and I will be providing a further update to the House of Commons at the start of business on Monday.”
The Metropolitan police said its officers “rapidly responded” after the becoming aware of protests at the Palace of Westminster at about 11.45am. According to the force, protest removal teams “de-bonded” and arrested four protesters in the Commons chamber.
BREAKING NEWS: Extinction Rebellion supporters have superglued around the Speakers Chair inside the commons chamber.
Right now inside Parliament a speech is being read out demanding a Citizens’ Assembly Now: “We are in crisis. We can not afford to carry on like this…” pic.twitter.com/JqKBasRaCH
— Extinction Rebellion UK 🌍 (@XRebellionUK) September 2, 2022
“None of these protesters were glued to the Speaker’s chair and there has been no damage to the Speaker’s chair,” the force said.
Another protester who had glued himself to the pavement within the palace grounds was also arrested, while the protester who had scaled Big Ben was arrested after voluntarily descending to waiting officers. All six were arrested for trespassing on a protected site. The pair who had locked themselves to the gates of parliament were arrested for failing to comply with an order to cease their protest.
All remained in custody at central London police stations on Friday evening, the Met said.
In a statement, XR described the actions as the “opening act” for further protests it has planned this month, including a three-day occupation of Hyde Park, “which itself will act as a launch event for a five-phase plan to bring 100,000 people on to the streets in civil resistance next spring”.
A citizens’ assembly on solutions to the climate crisis has been one of XR’s key demands since it emerged as a major force in environmental activism in 2018.
“Independent citizens’ assemblies can show that those blocking progress in Westminster have no democratic mandate to continue destroying the environment and give power back to people,” said Alanna Byrne, a spokesperson for XR.
Oscar Berglund, a political scientist at the University of Bristol who studies protest movements, tweeted: “Well done on getting in there. But this is such a strange demand. The House of Commons literally gave you a citizens’ assembly three years ago. What’s the aim here?”
The Commons and Lords are in recess until Monday.