Climate change protesters who have stopped traffic in a series of peaceful demonstrations across London are proposing to “pause” their rebellion if politicians agree to negotiate.
Members of Extinction Rebellion (XR) are suggesting temporarily ending disruptive tactics to focus on political negotiations as they enter a second week of campaigning to have the Government declare a climate emergency.
A spokesman said there would be no escalation of activity on Bank Holiday Monday, but warned that the disruption could get “much worse” if politicians were not open to their negotiation requests.
The group will no longer hold a picnic on the Westway by Edgware Road Underground station, which would have stopped traffic on the busy A-road on the last day of the long Easter weekend.
Instead, at Marble Arch, the only police-sanctioned protest space, activists will meet to “vision what’s going to happen in the coming week”, an Extinction Rebellion member said, as she introduced Swedish activist Greta Thunberg to the stage.
The 16-year-old was met with cheers as she walked on stage and told a crowd of hundreds that humanity was at a crossroads.
Earlier on Sunday, in what the group later said was an internal memo intended to garner feedback from members, Farhana Yamin, the group’s political circle co-ordinator, said the group would shift tactics to “focus on political demands”.
She added: “Being able to ‘pause’ a rebellion shows that we are organised and a long-term political force to be reckoned with.”
Over the past week protesters have stopped traffic in Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Parliament Square and Waterloo Bridge.
A total of 963 people had been arrested as of 7pm, the Met Police said, warning: “This will continue if protesters do not go to Marble Arch to continue their protest legally.”
By Sunday evening, the roads around Parliament Square were cleared, and traffic on Waterloo Bridge was able to move northbound.
Traffic at Oxford Circus has been able to freely pass since Saturday.
The proposal suggests negotiating with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and Metropolitan Police, to agree that they be allowed to continue their protests at one site in London.
Members would commit to not disrupting other areas in exchange for Mr Khan speeding up the implementation of the Declaration of Climate and Ecological Emergency, and considering setting up a London Citizens’ Assembly.
They will also set up a political taskforce to take forward public negotiations with the Government, warning that they are prepared to scale up action depending on how much progress is made.
Neither the Met nor the Mayor’s Office would say whether they were considering the proposals.
Clarifying plans for next week in a statement on Sunday evening, the group said: “Earlier today, our political strategy team put out an internal message that said we were now moving into our second week of rebellion, where the focus will shift to our three key demands.
“We set out our aims for negotiating with the UK Government, which we want to be open and public.
“We also outlined a couple of suggestions for limiting disruption, providing the political class were now prepared to listen.
“As we said, we are now engaging in a process of getting feedback from the movement and adapting our proposal.”