Eco-activists blocked a second central London bridge at rush hour this morning as Sadiq Khan faced growing calls to “get a grip” on climate protests paralysing the capital.
A group of campaigners blocked Vauxhall Bridge only to come face to face with angry drivers and motorcyclists. Tensions flared with one protester punched in the chest by a passer-by after trying to hand out a leaflet.
A video also emerged of an irate scooter rider screaming at the protesters.
In the clip filmed at Vauxhall Bridge the exasperated man can be heard shouting: "I'm a engineer, I work in f***ing sustainable energy. How can I save the world if I can't get to f***ing work?"
The climate protesters sparked a queue of traffic that was taking motorists around 45 minutes to get through.
The clash came as the Mayor and police chiefs faced mounting criticism over a failure to end the protests, now entering their fourth day.
Minister Liz Truss, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, told the Standard: “It’s appalling the way that hard-working commuters are having their lives disrupted by the posturing of these so-called environmental protestors.”
The former Environment Secretary added: ”Sadiq Khan needs to get a grip on this urgently.”
Earlier she had tweeted: “Not only are these clowns disrupting hard working commuters - they are protesting against a very efficient form of public transport.”
Former Met Commissioner Lord Stevens told LBC today that police had blundered by giving “protestors the authority in the first place.”
He said: “You have to clear the streets..you have to bring in police resources. Enough is enough’”
A spokesman for the Mayor saud: “Sadiq Khan supports the police 100 per cent. And it is right that the policing of protests is an operational decision for the Met.”
Dozens of climate protesters remained on Waterloo Bridge this morning while activists continued to block Oxford Circus with a pink boat and gridlock built around Marble Arch.
There was further controversy as a social media video emerged showing two uniformed officers in high vis jackets dancing with demonstrators at Oxford Circus . One witness said they had even made music requests from the DJ.
Scotland Yard immediately branded such behaviour “unacceptable.”
At about 8.45am a group of around two dozen activists “swarmed” the junction of Vauxhall Bridge and Millbank, seizing yet another of the capital’s commuter arteries.
Motorists and lorry drivers blared their horns in frustration as the protestors blocked traffic intermittently for five minutes at a time.
One activist, a nanny, justified the tactic by saying: “We are in an emergency. Blocking major roads in London, one of the biggest cities in the world - if that’s not going to get people to notice, what is?”
A motorcyclist could be seen screaming at the activists about not being able to get to work.
Stuck in his car waiting for the group to move out of the road, civil servant Abdul Kamal, 25, expressed some sympathy for Extinction Rebellion’s cause.
But he added: “I’m on my way to work, I’m going to be there after 10am - this is my only way to work. The motive is understandable but the method is s***.”
Commuters walking across Waterloo Bridge, which is completely closed to traffic, were forced to weave between crowds of demonstrators waving flags and banners calling for action to tackle a “climate emergency”.
But Claire Perry, minister for Energy and Clean Growth, told the Standard: “I absolutely get the science, passion and commitment behind the protests this week and welcome the fact that the urgent need to address climate change has gone from niche to mainstream [but] over the past 30 years the UK has been in the global vanguard of emissions reduction and we have high ambitions to go further but this has not been widely recognised or discussed until now.
British Transport Police continue to deploy additional officers throughout the London rail network to deter and disrupt further protest activity affecting the London Underground or other lines.
Commenting on the video of the officers dancing with protesters Commander Jane Connors of the Met said: “I’m disappointed by the video and the unacceptable behaviour of the officers in it. We expect our officers to engage with the protesters but clearly their actions fall short of the tone of the policing operation at a time when people are frustrated at the actions of the protesters.
“We will be reminding officers of their responsibilities and expectations in policing this operation - however the majority of officers have been working long hours and I am grateful to them for their continued commitment. “
The first people thought to have been charged over this week’s climate change protests in London are expected to appear in court later.
Cathy Eastburn, 51, Mark Ovland, 35, and Luke Watson, 29, are due before magistrates accused of obstructing trains at Canary Wharf station yesterday.
Eastburn, of Gerards Close in Lambeth, south London, Ovland, of Keinton Mandeville, Somerton, Somerset, and Watson, from Manuden in Essex, are due at Highbury Corner Magistrates’ Court later.
Some activists glued themselves to a train while others chained themselves to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s garden fence.