Stanley Johnson joined demonstrations in Trafalgar Square on Wednesday after his son, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, told the group to pack up their “hemp-smelling” tents and get off the streets.
The elder Johnson praised the environmental movement, telling the crowd they had “exactly the right things in mind” with their demand to slash carbon emissions to zero.
“I am showing up here because I think what they’re doing is tremendously important,” he said. “From tiny acorns, great movements spring. It’s absolutely clear to me that we have been moving far too slowly on the climate change issue.”
More than 500 people have been arrested in London alone since activists began occupying key roads, bridges and tourist destinations on Monday as part of a global wave of protests.
In Canada, activists in several cities took part in demonstrations, blocking the Bloor Viaduct in Toronto, the Walterdale Bridge in Edmonton, the Burrard Bridge in Vancouver and the Jacques Cartier Bridge in Montreal, among others. The demonstrations also hit New York, Paris, Berlin and Madrid.
Hours after the global action kicked off, Britain’s prime minister referred to the activists as “unco-operative crusties” who should stop blocking London’s streets with “heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs.”
His father was seemingly unfazed by his son’s comments.
“On the point of non-co-operative crusties, I wear that badge with pride,” he told protesters during a panel discussion in Trafalgar Square.
“It’s one of the nicest things that has been said about me for a long time. A non-co-operative crusty, absolutely superb — do they taste good? That’s my thought. I think they do.”
He said that aside from the prime minister, the Johnson family is “totally united” on the issue of climate change.
“I don’t think there’s a single dissenting voice in the Johnson family. Don’t forget, we grew up in the country. Nature is in our blood,” he told Reuters.
“I don’t think you need to say, ‘Will he listen?'” Stanley Johnson said about his son. “It’s perfectly clear if you listened to what he said on the steps of Downing Street that very first day he came in.”
Family feuds are not uncommon in the Johnson family. Boris Johnson’s brother, Jo Johnson, quit his role in government over Brexit in early September. His sister, Rachel Johnson, once described her sibling as being a different person who uses the House of Commons as a “bully pulpit.”
Extinction Rebellion, also known as XR, has chapters in some 50 countries. The group’s protests on Monday reportedly took place in a total of 60 cities worldwide.
— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters