Labour is accused of siding with 'vandals and thugs'

Labour is accused of siding with ‘vandals and thugs’ after Peers vote down protests legislation to stop eco-protesters disrupting the country

  • Priti Patel accused Labour of siding with ‘thugs’ after backing eco-protesters
  • Home Secretary said opposition peers not on the side of ‘law-abiding majority’ 
  • Measures to prevent activists from shutting roads were voted down on Monday

Priti Patel has accused Labour of siding with ‘vandals and thugs’ after the party voted down legislation to stop eco-protesters disrupting the country.

The Home Secretary said opposition peers were not on the side of the ‘law-abiding majority’ and had backed groups which ‘bring our country to a standstill’.

Measures to prevent activists from movements such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain from shutting roads were voted down by the unelected House of Lords on Monday night.

Downing Street said it was ‘disappointed’ by the move, which would prevent it from tackling ‘guerrilla tactics’ used by protesters.

Priti Patel has accused Labour of siding with ‘vandals and thugs’ after the party voted down legislation to stop eco-protesters disrupting the country 

Miss Patel added: ‘Labour blocked the Government from introducing new measures to stop Insulate Britain and XR bringing our country to a standstill. 

‘Once again Labour’s actions are proving they are not on the side of the law-abiding majority – instead choosing to defend vandals and thugs.’

Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden said Labour and the Liberal Democrats were enabling protesters who block highways, ambulances and workplaces. He added they had voted to make it ‘harder for the British people to get on with their lives’.

The Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill was gutted by peers, who inflicted a series of defeats on the Government.

No10 said it would reflect on the votes, but could use its Commons majority to overturn the defeats. 

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: ‘It is disappointing the Lords did not back the public order measures that will ensure the everyday lives of the overwhelming majority are not disrupted by a selfish minority of protesters whose actions endanger lives and cost the public millions of pounds.’

Measures to prevent activists from movements such as Extinction Rebellion (XR) and Insulate Britain from shutting roads were voted down by the unelected House of Lords on Monday night

They added that policing XR protests in April and October 2019 cost £37million, ‘more than twice the annual budget of London’s violent crime taskforce’, while Insulate Britain cost forces £4million in three months last year.

Yesterday Justice Secretary Dominic Raab suggested the Government would bring back measures to restrict protests following the defeats.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today: ‘Of course we support the right of peaceful and rambunctious protest, but it cannot be allowed to interfere with the lives of the law-abiding majority.’ Among rejected powers was one that would allow individuals with a history of causing serious disruption to be banned from certain protests.

A proposal to make it an offence for a person to disrupt operation of key infrastructure, including airports and newspaper printers, was blocked too.

In a separate defeat, peers voted to restrict tougher sentences for blocking a highway to major routes and motorways rather than all roads.

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