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Eco-extremists face JAIL under new government powers to tackle illegal protests, Priti Patel says

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PRITI Patel has warned eco-warriors blockading roads they face jail under new laws to tackle illegal demonstrations.

The Home Secretary hit back after protest group Insulate Britain obstructed the M25 for a second day.

Dozens of campaigners from the group linked to Extinction Rebellion were arrested by police yesterday.

It comes after the demonstrators sparked travel chaos during a rush-hour blockade on Monday.

There were angry scenes as rush-hour drivers confronted protesters forming human barriers.

The activists have pledged to stage a third protest on the M25 "as soon as possible".

'DECISIVE ACTION'

Ms Patel urged police to take "decisive action" and vowed to target illegal protests under the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill.

She branded the group's “guerrilla tactics” as “completely unacceptable” and warned that they could be slapped with jail terms under new powers.

The bill going through parliament will beef up police powers to slap stricter conditions on demonstrations and allow cops to close down protests more quickly.

Organisers could face up to six months in prison or fines of up to £2,500.

Ms Patel said: "This government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority.

This government will not stand by and allow a small minority of selfish protesters to cause significant disruption to the lives and livelihoods of the hard-working majority

Priti Patel

“The guerrilla tactics used by Insulate Britain detract from their cause and I know the public will agree that the scenes on the M25 this week were completely unacceptable.

“The police have our full support. They must uphold the law and take decisive action."

She added: ""This kind of disruption is dangerous and takes police away from communities where they are needed most."

Defence Minister Ben Wallace was among those who has criticised police for failing to "act swiftly".

'ENVIRONMENTAL EXTREMISM'

Yesterday, one mob blocked Junction 23 at South Mimms, Hertfordshire, while a second group shut down the main carriageway from Junction 8 at Reigate to Junction 9 at Leatherhead, both in Surrey.

Some even glued their hands to the road in the Dartford Crossing area at Junction 1A and 1B.

Police from Essex, Hertfordshire, Surrey and Kent arrested dozens of the climate change protesters after the widespread chaos.

The group claimed 89 of 181 activists arrested this week were released from custody despite telling officers they were planning to stage more protests.

Another 17 were bailed, as security experts urged cops to crack down on the protests, which have caused travel misery for motorists.

Richard Walton, former head of counter terrorism at the Metropolitan Police, said: “The illegal blockading of motorways is environmental extremism, not legal protest.

"Environmental extremists using planned, illegal tactics of blockading main roads need to be dealt with as robustly as far-Right and Islamist extremists – with the full force of the law, using all available police tactics.” 

Insulate Britain campaigns for the government to fund home insulation in social housing,

Travel chaos as eco-warriors block M25 for second time in a week

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