Norfolk MPs fired up over fuel protests

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis 

Mid-Norfolk MP George Freeman, left, and Norwich South MP Clive Lewis - Credit: Archant

Two Norfolk MPs have disagreed over the rights of protesters to stop fuel tankers.

Protesters who blockaded an Essex fuel wholesaler caused pumps to run dry in Norfolk this month.

Now two Norfolk MPs - Labour's Clive Lewis and Tory George Freeman - are disagreeing over the demonstration and whether it was acceptable.

Mr Freeman, the MP for Mid Norfolk, criticised the protesters in an interview with the BBC, calling them "incredibly selfish".

"People are struggling to get to work, struggling to drop children off at school, everyday ordinary people who have just got to get around can't live if they can’t get fuel.  

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman

Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

“My plea to anyone who knows Extinction Rebellion or oil protesters is ‘stop it’ we already know there is a climate crisis and we have got to ween ourselves off fossil fuels. 

“But stopping the flow of fuel so that everyday ordinary families and businesses can’t work is a disgrace and it needs to stop.” 

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While Mr Freeman said he welcomed protest in the form of marches, he said chaining yourself to tankers, vandalism and trespass were wrong, suggesting those people run to be councillors or MPs instead.

However, Mr Lewis, MP for Norwich South, expressed solidarity with the protesters but said it was not something he did lightly.

Speaking on BBC radio Mr Lewis said: "I understand the difficulty that this can be causing for a number of people, I listened to George Freeman, and the problem is that his government does not want to ween us off fossil fuels. 

“They are now talking about opening up new oil fields, they are now talking about keeping open the option of fracking again in the UK."

Clive Lewis MP

Norwich South MP Clive Lewis - Credit: Chris McAndrew

Mr Lewis said the government was ignoring the latest scientific reports on climate change and if the economy is not decarbonised "there is no future for humanity".

“This is a climate emergency," he continued. "It won’t cause inconvenience, it won’t cause just people to lose income, it will mean that there are food riots, it will mean that the end of civilisation takes place. Possibly within the lifetime of people listening now.” 

The Labour MP argued protest can be inconvenient but still the right thing to do.

The Just Stop Oil demonstrators were removed by police on Tuesday afternoon and fuel has started returning to the county.