Extinction Rebellion climate protester scales Big Ben scaffolding

Extinction Rebellion climate protester scales Big Ben scaffolding

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An Extinction Rebellion protester has scaled the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben, saying he was inspired by Swedish teenage activist Greta Thunberg.

Footage of the stunt circulated on social media showed 43-year-old tree surgeon Ben Atkinson climbing the landmark dressed as Boris Johnson – complete with a blond wig, shirt, tie and jacket.

When he reached the top, he draped two banners from the structure.

One featured the Extinction Rebellion logo on a rainbow background and the words “No pride on a dead planet”, and the other said “Citizens Assembly”.

After reaching the top, Mr Atkinson posted on Facebook: “Gone and done it… Extinction Rebellion. Here to stay.”

“We got the declaration of climate emergency last time. Now perhaps, please Boris, you’re struggling to navigate Brexit let alone work our way out of the sixth mass extinction event.

“Please. Pretty please…. let’s get on with the citizens assembly. Thank’s Boris.

“I know somewhere in there you have compassionate feelings towards something other than your career. You’ve got Premiership. Now you’ve got a chance to do something that could last for centuries.

“A legacy of being the man that turned it all around. Dare you.

“Oh, and thanks Greta. I heard you calling.”

Police watch an Extinction Rebellion protester who has scaled the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben at the Houses of Parliament, Westminster, London

Shortly before climbing the building, Mr Atkinson posted a photo of himself with a blond wig, swimming goggles, blazer and tie, adding: “Ready steady breathe deep… go.”

Onlookers said police officers had used a lift that is part of the scaffolding to reach Mr Atkinson.

By 4.50pm, Mr Atkinson was still on the scaffolding, but had unhooked himself from his ropes to evade police climbers.

He had managed to climb to the north east side of the tower and was seen seated on a girder that runs its width.

Police officers could be seen at the core of the scaffolding level with Mr Atkinson.

A spokeswoman for the Met Police said the force had officers at the scene, but declined to comment on how they were planning on getting Mr Atkinson down.

The protester scaled the scaffolding surrounding Big Ben

Police have closed the entrance to Westminster Tube station that is across the road from Big Ben, and are asking people to leave the area directly in front of where the demonstrator is.

Other entrances to the Tube station remain open.

A spokesman for Extinction Rebellion said Mr Atkinson’s climb was to highlight Government inaction on the climate and ecological emergency.

It is the latest in a string of stunts staged by Extinction Rebellion on the last day of their autumn uprising – despite being barred from protesting in the capital since Monday by the Met Police.

Earlier, the group performed a “red handed” march, where they sprayed hand prints using chalk-based spray paint around Whitehall.

Yesterday, the group was forced to apologise after holding up Jubilee Line trains by climbing on them.

One protester was filmed lashing out at an angry commuter who had pulled him off the roof of a train.

On Friday evening, Extinction Rebellion said it would be ending the protest a day earlier than originally planned.

It apologised again for the incidents on the tube, adding: “We know we do things that cause disruption to everyday people’s lives – to make concrete the existential threat we all face – and they are rightly angry when we do this.

“But many of us are also scared for the future of the planet which we hold so dear.

“We still have not brought everyone with us on the issue of the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

“Many of the same voices who are marginalised and excluded in society do not see Extinction Rebellion as their movement.”

It finished: “To everyone in the movement, let’s take this moment to ground ourselves, sow the seeds for whatever is to come and take our experience back to the towns and cities in which we live.

“We also invite you to pause and take care of yourselves after the 12 day rollercoaster on which we have all been.

“To Londoners, we are sorry for disrupting you. We don’t do this out of malice, we do it because we are scared and we care. For many of us, this is our home, and we love it too.”

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