BREX FACTOR: Boris' Extinct Rebellion against climate protests

PUBLISHED: 18:00 26 April 2019

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg speaks at the European Parliament in Strasbourg. (AP Photo/Jean-Francois Badias)

Jean-Francois BADIAS

Boris's extinct views and this week's Brexiteers of the week

An Extinction Rebellion's climate change protest location in central London. Photo: ANNA MUNROAn Extinction Rebellion's climate change protest location in central London. Photo: ANNA MUNRO

Boris Johnson claims he is “utterly fed up with being told by nice young people that their opinions are more important than my own”. The obvious response is “stop dating them then”, but it turns out he's vexed not by girlfriend Carrie Symons, almost a quarter-century his junior, but by 16-year-old Greta Thunberg and the Extinction Rebellion movement.

The bus charlatan calls them “smug, irritating and disruptive” – takes one to know one – and he is not alone. Gerard Batten, Toby Young, Darren Grimes, Brendan O'Neill… the whole Suicide Squad of Brexit have queued up to take a pop at the teenager and her fellow protesters.

“Greta is a 16-year-old looking for an excuse to bunk off school,” said Grimes, who has spent his youth far more wisely, the highlights including being fined and reported to the police for breaking electoral law during the referendum campaign. “When's someone going to call her out?” tweeted Young, who was called out for his social media messages about breasts and dicks, leading to his resignation from a university watchdog job. O'Neill wrote that there was “something chilling” about Thunberg, who “increasingly looks and sounds like a cult member”, thus revealing that Brendan O'Neill neither owns a mirror or watches himself on television.

The attack lines veered between climate change denial and daddy-knows-best condescension. Grimes pointed out that “in 1989 the UN warned entire nations could be wiped off the face of the Earth by rising sea levels if the global warming trend is not reversed by the year 2000”. His implication, clearly, was that since entire nations had yet to be wiped off the face of the earth, the whole thing had to be a hoax.

But unlikely as it might be for a Brexiteers to selectively interpret a statement to suit their argument, the year 2000 turns out not to have been a hard nation-wiping deadline by the UN at all, rather just a point at which they predicted the planet would suffer irreversible damage. Perhaps not coincidentally, 18 of the 19 warmest years since global record-keeping began all have occurred from 2001 to now.

O'Neill, meanwhile, has decided that the motley crew of activists and students who make up Extinction Rebellion are in contempt of “ordinary people” partly thanks to Thunberg, pictured, “a patsy for scared and elitist adults”. Talking of elitist adults, Spiked, the online magazine O'Neill edits, has received $300,000 in funding from a foundation led by an 83-year-old Republican oil billionaire who is the eighth-richest person in the world. Sorry, make that “eighth-richest ordinary person in the world”.

Young burbled that Thunberg was wrong to say “no one else is doing anything” as “Western governments are doing something. Maybe not enough, but that's a different point.” A stinging rebuttal there, and not at all petty point-scoring against a schoolgirl who has enthused and mobilised hundreds of thousands in 71 countries from a 55-year-old who, by his own admission, couldn't even get five mates to turn up to his stag do.

Johnson confessed some sympathy for Greta et al but wanted to educate them about the greatest conservationist of all. In Britain, he boasted, “we have been utterly ruthless in getting rid of coal-fired power stations (but) who wanted to stick with coal? Arthur Scargill, Jeremy Corbyn and the rest of the far Left. Who was the first British prime minister to put the environment at the centre of politics? Margaret Thatcher.” Ah yes, the Green Lady, as absolutely no-one called her! Rather than killing off nationalised industry and the NUM, it turns out Thatcher just shut down those pits because she wanted to save the world! Truly, a plot twist to match anything in Avengers: Endgame.

Finally, both Johnson and Batten suggested that Thunberg and co should bog off and bother the Chinese instead. Fresh from his triumphant press conference with the Nazi dog salute dickhead and the pondlife who said he “wouldn't even rape” Jess Phillips, UKIP's leader suggested that “since the vast majority of emissions are generated by China… how about the protesters going there to disrupt the workings of their society? Government could pay their airfares”. Yes, that's Gerard Batten suggesting we cut CO2 emissions by flying thousands of people from London to Beijing, flights which would have a carbon footprint cost of 2.80 metric tons of CO2e per person.

Johnson joined in the moaning about Chinese pollution – if only he'd had, say, two years in a senior diplomatic role during which he could have tried to do something about it! – adding: “This is the time for the protesters to take their pink boat to Tiananmen Square, and lecture them in the way they have been lecturing us. Whether the Chinese will allow them to block the traffic is another matter.”

And surely this is the point. If Brexit happens the EU will have a weaker hand when it comes to pressing China to cut emissions, and simultaneously the Chinese will become too important for a desperate Britain to pester with environmental concerns which might delay a much-needed trade deal.

More Remainer scaremongering? Well, while China's status as the world's cheap labour workshop means it does have the world's highest rate of CO2e by country, the biggest polluter by head of population is the United States of America. And guess whose president is coming for a state visit in June?

Brexiteers of the week

ANNUNZIATA REES-MOGG

Before achieving fame as a Brexit Party candidate and an anagram of 'A Stargazing Neon Emu', the little sister of Brexit's Professor Yaffle worked on investment magazine Moneyweek, providing commentary and analysis on financial articles written by others.

There are some arresting headlines under her byline on the mag's website (“How to profit from the world's water crisis”; “Why drought could be good news for tea prices”) but the real attention-grabber is a 2005 article titled “Google: don't join the mania”. Here Nancy points out that the company has “survived the dotcom crash, pulled off the largest and most talked-about initial public offering in the history of Silicon Valley, and even entered our language as an everyday verb… but does that really justify its current share price of $410?” The verdict? “We aren't convinced.” Google's share price as we went to press was $1,258.

GERARD BATTEN

Having started the day of his party's European elections campaign launch by storming out of a Sky News interview, UKIP's embattled leader continued in a fashion which made onlookers nostalgic for the slick professionalism of the Paul Nuttall era.

He began by mocking the adopted colour of Nigel Farage's Brexit Party. Said Batten: “You can sum it up in one word – light blue.” With a place in Private Eye's Colemanballs already secure, he later attempted to make it a double by declaring: “We will not be going back to Brussels to get our snouts back in the gravy train... you don't put your snout in a gravy train, do you? You put it in a trough. And the trough is on the gravy train.”

The launch then descended into chaos as activists shouted down reporters attempting to question Batten's controversial candidates Sargon of Akkad and Count Dankula, but Batten tweeted that “it was a successful event.” Let's look forward to an equally successful result for UKIP in May!

THE WOLF OF WALL STREET

Ex-con Jordan Belfort, who served 22 months in jail for the stock market frauds detailed in Martin Scorsese's 2013 film, has put himself forward as an advisor to Theresa May and believes she is being too sensible in Brexit negotiations.

Belfort told the Evening Standard: “I remember the energy and excitement (of the Brexit vote) and that's all been lost. I think the biggest issue with what happened with Brexit is there's emotional certainty and logical certainty. The vote was based on emotion. The logical side now needs to catch up. I really believe that the big mistake she made is that she's not playing on the emotional side, she allowed the conversation to devolve into strictly logical.”

Belfort was ordered to pay $110 million to his victims and currently does so at a rate of $10,000 a month – will he propose taking back control and giving it to the NHS instead?

RICHARD MADELEY

Writing in his Express column, Judi's worse half sniffed that he couldn't remember much of what an Extinction Rebellion (ER) organiser said in their television interview “mostly because annoyingly she kept tearing up during the interview, choking back sobs as she warned of imminent planetary extinction”.

Madeley added: “Have you noticed how many anti-Brexit campaigners do that too, blub, I mean? It's really irritating, as if they think a display of lachrymose emotion in itself makes a convincing argument.”

Odd, since I can remember only one Remainer crying on TV – a female caller to the Jeremy Vine show who was upset after hearing co-host Lowri Turner declare that Brits like her who applied for Irish passports were “very mercenary” and “a bit grubby”. And in the video of Madeley's seven-minute interview with ER's Dr Gail Bradbrook, there only appear to be a couple of minor incidents of her “tearing up”. But as many have said of the man himself, perhaps Richard Madeley's TV is programmed different to the rest of us.

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