Activist ends 37 day Westminster hunger strike after ‘securing climate briefings for MPs’

·4-min read
Angus Rose has ended his hunger strike outside the UK parliament after 37 days  (Zoe Tidman / The Independent)
Angus Rose has ended his hunger strike outside the UK parliament after 37 days (Zoe Tidman / The Independent)

A man who was on hunger strike outside the Palace of Westminster demanding the government receives detailed briefings on the climate crisis has ended his protest after 37 days, claiming his demands have been met.

Angus Rose, 52, who began the strike on 14 March, received major support for his demands – if not his protest technique – from scientists, academics, doctors and climate experts, with over 30 concerned figures including the editors of the British Medical Journal, the Lancet, signing an open letter to Boris Johnson calling for Mr Rose’s "not unreasonable demand" to be met.

Speaking on day one of his hunger strike, Mr Rose said: "Why am I doing this? Well, these are desperate times. I really fear for the futures of my nephews and niece, so I’ve taken this drastic action because the government really isn’t doing enough to secure the future of my nephews and niece.

"The demand of the hunger strike is for the government’s chief scientific advisor to brief parliament and the cabinet on the climate crisis. That is the same kind of briefing which Boris Johnson had at the start of 2020 that totally changed his mind about climate change."

Over the course of his protest, which doctors said left his health in a "precarious" situation, his weight went down from 184lbs (13.1 stone/83.4kg) to 147lbs (10.5 stone/66.6kg).

Speaking to The Independent earlier this month, Mr Rose said: “I am quite aware that my health may be permanently impacted, but it is an utter necessity [that] I am here.”

Mr Rose ended his hunger strike, on Tuesday 19 April, after releasing a video on Twitter saying the government had agreed to his call for briefings for parliament and the Cabinet on the climate crisis, and MPs would be briefed by chief government scientist Patrick Vallance and that the briefing would also be streamed to the public.

The government could not confirm this to The Independent.

In the open letter published in the BMJ on 16 April, the scientists and doctors warned Mr Johnson they were increasingly concerned about Mr Rose’s health, but also said they "agree it is essential that the latest scientific evidence on the climate crisis is officially and openly communicated to the cabinet and members of parliament by the government’s chief scientific adviser".

At this point in his protest, they said, Mr Rose had lost 18 per cent of his body weight, a marker "which indicates severe risk to life".

The letter added: "His not unreasonable demand is that all members of parliament including the cabinet are briefed on the climate crisis by Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser. This is because you described the briefing you received from Patrick Vallance on 28 January 2020 as a “Road to Damascus” moment.

"The climate crisis has been described by more than 200 health journals, in an unprecedented joint editorial last year, as risking “catastrophic harm to health that will be impossible to reverse.”

Speaking as he ended his hunger strike, Mr Rose said: "I have some very very good news: a briefing has been secured. A briefing for parliament and the Cabinet – a briefing that will be delivered by Sir Patrick Vallance, and it will be recorded to be made available to the public.

So this is what I was on hunger strike for.

"This is a really important step to try and secure a liveable future for my nephews and niece."

He said he ended his 37-day hunger strike by eating some peanut butter "and the taste was indescribable".

The Independent understands Green MP Caroline Lucas will organise an all-party parliamentary group on climate science and invite Sir Patrick and MPs and also record it, however such meetings are not official government business.

The government indicated there were no specific plans for briefings which had been drawn up.

A government spokesperson told The Independent: “We are very pleased that Mr Rose has ceased his course of action and wish him a speedy recovery.

“Energy Minister Greg Hands was in regular contact with Mr Rose, repeatedly urging him to reconsider his actions. He also reiterated that the information Mr Rose was requesting is already in the public domain.

“Sir Patrick Vallance regularly speaks in Parliament on climate change issues, including a forthcoming select committee appearance which will be televised as is usual.”

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