LABOUR MP Dawn Butler today sparked fury after praising eco-warriors for attacking the free press by blockading printworks.
The former shadow equalities minister triggered a Twitter storm after saying the Extinction Rebellion protesters had done "excellent work" by preventing the public from receiving their news.
Dozens of eco-warriors last night blocked roads near printworks in Broxbourne, Hertfordshire, Knowsley near Liverpool and close to Glasgow – halting deliveries of national newspapers.
The protests have been widely condemned, with Home Secretary Priti Patel this morning saying the attack on the country's free press was "completely unacceptable".
But Ms Butler this morning took to Twitter, writing: "Bravo #ExtinctionRebellion. Excellent work…"
She accompanied the message with a number of clapping hands emojis.
Minister of State at Foreign Nigel Adams hit out at the MP's tweet, writing: "and they wonder why they lost the election".
Furious Good Morning Britain host Piers Morgan branded her message "shameful", saying: "A senior British politician celebrating the stifling of free speech – shameful."
And others were quick to question whether her statement was Labour's standpoint over the protests, with talk Radio host Julia Hartley-Brewer said: "Just checking @Keir_Starmer , does the Labour Party believe in a free press or not? If it does, why is one of your MPs @DawnButlerBrent praising extremists who seek to prevent free speech?"
Jim Pickard, the Chief Political Correspondent for the Financial Times, added: "since when has forcibly silencing the free press been a good thing in a democracy."
Ms Butler's support of blocking the free press comes after the media revealed she faced allegations of claiming more than £37,000 in taxpayers' cash over two years to pay for a second home in her constituency.
The 2009 claims – which she denied – saw her accused of using taxpayer cash to pay for a whirlpool bath at the London home.
Ms Butler was later exonerated over the claims by a Parliamentary committee.
Her move to support muzzling the free press is in direct contrast to MP Robert Jenrick, who this year faced fury for green-lighting a Tory donor’s £1billion housing development and travelling 150 miles from London to his £1.1million home in Herefordshire during the coronavirus lockdown.
Jenrick this morning tweeted: "A free press matters to all of us who value a free society. They mustn’t be silenced by an intolerant minority."
And Ms Butler – who this year accused the Metropolitan Police of being "institutionally racist" after she was pulled over – was quickly met with criticism, with Twitter user saying: "Should MPs encourage criminality? These far left extremists have been breaking the law with their shameful criminal disruption."
Another added: "I'm not sure celebrating the Press being shut down is a good look for a democrat, Dawn."
Meanwhile Labour MP Emily Thornberry told Times Radio: "This is very worrying and I don't really know what it is that is expected to be achieved and I know that for many older listeners it's very much part of their daily life, getting their paper delivered in the morning and I just think it's wrong."
The Sun Online has contacted the Labour party for comment.
ATTACK ON FREE SPEECH
The protests were organised despite newspapers campaigning and highlighting climate change for years – with The Sun today running a comment piece from Sir David Attenborough urging the public to take the opportunity to tackle the climate crisis.
Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted this morning, saying: "This morning people across the country will be prevented from reading their newspaper because of the actions of Extinction Rebellion.
"This attack on our free press, society and democracy is completely unacceptable."
Around 100 protesters – who used bamboo to lock themselves to vehicles in the roads – remain at the sites this morning, with some seen glued to the road and others seen waving “free the truth” signs.
Cops said at least 42 people have so far been arrested in connection with the demo.
A spokesperson for Newsprinters said: "Overnight printing at two Newsprinters plants was disrupted by activity by Extinction Rebellion.
"Thanks to other industry partners, printing was transferred to other sites. We apologise sincerely to any readers of The Sun, The Times, the Daily Mail, the Daily Telegraph and the Financial Times who may be unable to buy their usual newspaper this morning due to late deliveries.
"Our teams are working to get newspapers delivered to retailers as soon as possible this morning.
"This attack on all of the free press impacted many workers going about their jobs.
"Overnight print workers, delivery drivers, wholesale workers and retail newsagents have faced delays and financial penalty.
"This is a matter for the Police and the Home Office."
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