Greenpeace protester mounts Tory bus demanding ‘clean power not Paddy Power’

A Greenpeace activist has climbed on to the Tory election battle bus to protest against the party’s environmental record.

Amy Rugg-Easey got on to the coach using a ladder as it was parked outside a kit car manufacturer in Nottinghamshire ahead of a visit by Home Secretary James Cleverly.

She unfurled a banner reading “clean power not Paddy Power”, in reference to the election date betting scandal, and stayed on the roof for 12 minutes.

Ms Rugg-Easey said she staged the action because “we deserve better on climate and nature.”

Speaking to reporters who had been travelling on the bus after climbing down, she said: “On climate and nature, the Conservatives are the worst out of all the parties and it’s so obvious.”

In a statement, she added: “We’ve had enough of this Government lurching from one scandal to the next while gambling with our future. We need clean power, not Paddy Power.

“Fourteen years of Conservative governments has left this country broken.

Home Secretary James Cleverly during a visit to Great British Sports Cars in Ollerton, Nottinghamshire, while on the General Election campaign trail
Home Secretary James Cleverly, centre right, said the Conservatives would always take ‘violent, dangerous or damaging’ protests seriously (Joe Giddens/PA)

“(Rishi) Sunak has gone backwards on climate action, ditching key pledges and promising to ‘max out’ the climate-wrecking oil and gas that are the cause of the cost-of-living crisis and our unaffordable bills.

“Our rivers are awash with sewage and our economy, NHS and public services are on their knees.

“Enough is enough. We’ve climbed on to Sunak’s battle bus today to remind the British public that it is the Conservative Government’s consistent failure to deliver greener, fairer policies that has created the mess we’re in.

“Don’t back the wrong horse – a vote for the climate is a vote for a better future.”

Mr Cleverly, who arrived after the demonstrators had left, said the Conservatives would always take “violent, dangerous or damaging” protests seriously “unlike Labour”.

The Cabinet minister told broadcasters: “We have put legislation in place to toughen up our response to disruptive and damaging protests.

“We value the right to protest but where it damages public property, ancient monuments, buildings, that is just criminal behaviour, there is no need for that to make your point.

“Under a Conservative government, we will always take violent, dangerous or damaging protests seriously, unlike Labour who are bankrolled by the same people who … then watch them go off and create criminal damage, which is totally unacceptable.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was not travelling on the Conservative-branded bus on Wednesday.

A Nottinghamshire Police vehicle and two officers appeared at the site of the campaign visit after the Greenpeace protesters had left.

Greenpeace activist Paul Morozzo said the protest was “legitimate and important” when asked whether sending a young woman on to the roof of the campaign bus was the right way to make the point.

Graphic showing opinion polls
(PA Graphics)

He told broadcasters: “We’ve only been there for a few minutes. We’ve come down, we don’t want to mess with the companies who organised the event. We’re very respectful of that.

“But in an election where the debate is so sort of poor and weak, and there’s so many lies and untruths about both the economy and climate, we think it’s legitimate and important to make our point, and in whatever way we can.”

Mr Morozzo said there was “nothing untoward” in how campaigners worked out the location of the bus, adding: “We just triangulated from publicly available information, public websites.”

Farming minister Sir Mark Spencer told the PA news agency it was ironic that “I’m here in my electric rechargeable vehicle and they turned up in their diesel van to protest about the environment”.

He said he was “sympathetic to some of the points they made” but the criticism of the Tories’ green record was not “fair at all”.