Tory MP calls for Just Stop Oil to be branded as terrorist organisation

A Tory MP is coming under fire for suggesting that the Just Stop Oil climate group should be classified as a terrorist organisation.

Gareth Johnson, who represents Dartford, asked Rishi Sunak at prime minister questions if he would consider proscribing the group.

Under current laws the home secretary can proscribe an organisation if he or she believes they are “concerned in terrorism”.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is one such organisation currently proscribed by the Home Office.

Mr Johnson’s comments come weeks after Just Stop Oil activists targeted the M25 motorway in Greater London and the Dartford Crossing - a bridge - in his constituency.

Two members of the group were on Tuesday found guilty of damaging the frame of a Van Gogh painting in  London’s Courtauld Gallery.

“They… attack artworks, the M25 and anything else to cause misery and mayhem,” Mr Johnson told MPs in the House of Commons.

“These people are not protesters - they are criminals.”

Gareth Johnson in the Commons (UK parliament)
Gareth Johnson in the Commons (UK parliament)

He added: “Will the prime minister, therefore, consider making Just Stop Oil a proscribed organisation so that they can be treated like the criminal organisation they actually are?”

Mr Sunak said Just Stop Oil’s protests had caused “mass misery” among sections of the population and put people in danger.

He said the police have our “full support” in their efforts to minimise the disruption but did not answer his colleague’s call for proscribing the organisation.

Mr Sunak said his government’s Public Order Bill would give them the power to do this.

Mr Johnson’s comments sparked anger among green campaigners and some MPs.

Caroline Lucas, the Green MP for Brighton Pavillion and he party’s former leader, said that protesting isn’t “criminal”.

“Letting climate-wrecking mega-wealthy fossil fuel companies wilfully destroy our planet and then rake in billions of profit as a result, now that *really is* criminal,” she added.