Liz Truss speech protest: what was anti-fracking Greenpeace protest about - and who were the protesters?

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Liz Truss could be heard saying “let’s get them removed” after the activists disrupted her speech

The Prime Minister’s speech to the Conservative Party conference was interrupted by protesters from Greenpeace.

After holding up a banner saying: “who voted for this?” they were removed from the conference hall in Birmingham.

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But what were they protesting about, what is Greenpeace and how did Liz Truss react? Here’s what you need to know.

Protesters interrupted Prime Minister Liz Truss’ speech to the Conservative Party conference.Protesters interrupted Prime Minister Liz Truss’ speech to the Conservative Party conference.
Protesters interrupted Prime Minister Liz Truss’ speech to the Conservative Party conference. | PA

What happened with the protest at the conference?

Liz Truss was a few minutes into her speech when two people in the conference hall stood up and unfurled a banner with the slogan “who voted for this?” on it.

The activists Rebecca Newsom, who is Greenpeace head of public affairs in the UK, and Greenpeace policy officer Ami McCarthy, were greeted with boos and security guards stepped in to escort them from the hall.

Why were they protesting?

Greenpeace said its activists were protesting at the conference “to denounce the prime minister ‘shredding’ her party’s 2019 manifesto promises.”

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In a tweet it said: “The PM is U-turning on fracking, strong climate action, and world-leading environmental protections. Who voted for this?”

Speaking outside the conference after the pair had been thrown out Ms Newsom said: “Nobody voted for fracking, nobody voted to cut benefits, nobody voted to trash nature, nobody voted to scrap workers’ rights.”

“There’s a whole host of things that the Conservatives were elected to do in 2019, that they are simply not doing.

“We needed to take that message and represent the public and actually push for Liz Truss to remain true to what the public has actually asked her and her government to do.”

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Both protesters said they were “hopeful” that the Government would remain committed to net zero, but that its policy was currently heading in the wrong direction.

Ms McCarthy said: “With policies like the ones she’s suggesting, a focus on fracking, a focus on North Sea oil and gas, it’s absolutely not the right direction.”

What is Greenpeace?

Greenpeace is a campaign group which advocates for the protection of the environment. It uses non-violent means of protest and campaigns on a number of issues worldwide including climate change, deforestation and anti-nuclear issues.

The group which was founded in Canada in 1971 uses methods such as direct action and lobbying to get its message across.

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One example of action by the group was a 12-day protest on a drilling rig in the North Sea.

Campaigners boarded the Transocean rig in the Cromarty Firth on 9 June 2020. The rig had been headed to the Vorlich oil field east of Aberdeen.

Transocean had secured a remporary ban on anyone connected with Greenpeace form boarding the rig or coming within 500 metres of it. Greenpeace was fined £80,000 for breaching the court interdict.

And last June a Greenpeace protester parachuted into the stadium at the Euro 2020 France v Germany game in Munich. Several people were injured during the protest. Debris fell on to the pitch and into the stands when the parachutist got tangled in wires carrying an overhead camera.

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The protest during Liz Truss’ speech.The protest during Liz Truss’ speech.
The protest during Liz Truss’ speech. | PA

How did Liz Truss react to the protest?

Moments after the banner was held aloft Liz Truss could be heard saying “let’s get them removed”. She was cheered and applauded by party members as the protesters were lead away.

Later on Ms Truss tried to make a joke of the protest as she continued with her speech, telling party members at the conference: “Now, later on in my speech, my friends, I am going to talk about the anti-growth coalition but I think they arrived in the hall a bit too early.”

Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference.Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference.
Prime Minister Liz Truss delivers her keynote speech at the Conservative Party annual conference. | PA

Deputy Prime Minister Therese Coffey said it was “disappointing” that the speech had been interrupted.

“Dealt with, got on with it, and Liz showed her resolve,” Ms Coffey told the BBC’s Politics Live programme.

“And exactly the sort of anti-growth coalition which she’s concerned is holding our country back.

“It didn’t hold her back today I can tell you.”

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