Just Stop Oil plan new campaign of disruption in 2023 - and could target the King's Coronation and strike days

11 January 2023, 09:35

Just Stop Oil protests will resume in 2023
Just Stop Oil protests will resume in 2023. Picture: Getty

By Henry Riley

Just Stop Oil will escalate their action in 2023, and could even target the King’s Coronation and add to strike disruption with further protests, LBC has learned.

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The group has said that because of their ‘success’ in 2022 in ‘getting people talking about the climate crisis’ they plan more large scale disruption this year.

The group, which saw over 2,000 arrests in 2022, including 138 protesters ending up in prison, has said that their membership has significantly grown since their large-scale disruptions last year - with more active members. 

Alex De Koning, a spokesperson for the group, said: "Yes unfortunately we're probably having to do more, because we need more change... and we need it faster... why would we slow down now?"

When pressed on whether this meant an increase in days of disruption, or increasing the level of disruption he replied, "it could potentially mean both... When two people threw soup at the Van Gough painting, that got more people talking about the climate crisis than when 33 million people in Pakistan got displaced because of the floods".

Protesters in Parliament Square
Protesters in Parliament Square. Picture: Getty

When asked about whether Just Stop Oil could target strike days for their demonstration, Koning said 'potentially', adding the group was in 'full solidarity with strike workers', saying many of its members would 'want to be on the picket lines with them'. 

Similarly, the group refused to rule out disrupting key events this year, when asked whether the group would target the UK local elections or Kings Coronation, both the 4th & 6th May respectively, the group said, 'it's not being ruled out'. 

Former Deputy Mayor of London, Lord Greenhalgh branded the group 'totally irresponsible', adding 'haven't they done enough damage?'. 

The Tory peer told LBC that the group potentially targeting key dates such as the Kings Coronation and strike days showed there was "no step that was too far for them... they're prepared to really ramp up the misery for people to make a point... why do they need to mess up all our lives?".

Just Stop Oil highlighted the global impact of climate change, such as catastrophic floods in Pakistan last year
Just Stop Oil highlighted the global impact of climate change, such as catastrophic floods in Pakistan last year. Picture: Getty

On whether tougher laws are needed to tackle the group, Lord Greenhalgh told LBC: "If you're going to protest and make your point by disrupting the lives of others, then that's crossed the boundary for me, people can protest, but not heap misery upon the great British public".

The former Minister said "we have the finest public order policing in the world, bar none. And the motorways are the arteries of our economy, they need to flow in order for our country to thrive, and grow, and prosper".

Police "should use absolutely every tool in their armamentarium to bring these protesters to book," he added.

Alex De Koning, a climate scientist with the group, admitted it was 'horrible' that 'people get caught up in this', but claimed he, and his colleagues from the group, would end their action immediately "if the government made a meaningful statement to end all oil and gas in the UK". 

He added "unfortunately the actions will be disruptive… history has shown that is how change is more likely to happen...if it’s not in the public sphere, it’s not in the public information".

Protesters march in Parliament Square with a 'No prison for...
Protesters march in Parliament Square with a 'No prison for... Picture: Getty

Former Justice Secretary Sir Robert Buckland told LBC, 'my message to Just Stop Oil is Just Stop'.

He said: "There’s a world of difference between having a proper debate… and creating the sort of disruption that creates more than misery for members of the public, but can also create life-threatening situations."

The Metropolitan Police told LBC "The actions of activists Just Stop Oil continue to take up valuable officer time that could be better used in local communities and dealing with priority crime."