The Prime Minister has branded protesters who have blocked major UK roads as “irresponsible crusties”.
Boris Johnson said Insulate Britain protesters, who have blocked highways across the South East in recent weeks, have been “doing considerable damage to the economy”.
His comments come ahead of home secretary Priti Patel’s speech to the Conservative Party Conference on Tuesday, in which she will lay out new measures to deal with demonstrators deemed to be disruptive.
On Tuesday morning, Johnson told LBC: “There are some people who call those individuals legitimate protesters.
“They are not. I think they are irresponsible crusties who are basically trying to stop people going about their day’s work and doing considerable damage to the economy.
“That is why we have taken the powers and why Priti Patel is doing the right thing to bring in powers so they can get six months or an unlimited fine.”
The home secretary is expected to confirm plans for tougher powers against the likes of Insulate Britain and Extinction Rebellion in her conference speech.
Protesters from Insulate Britain have blocked major roads including the M25 and the M4 in recent weeks.
A court injunction was taken out to prevent their blockade of the M25, but demonstrations have continued, most recently on roads across London on Monday.
Patel is preparing to announce an increase in the maximum penalties for disrupting a motorway, while also criminalising interference with major roads, railways and the press.
The Home Office will also give the police and courts new powers to deal with the “small minority of offenders” who are “intent” on travelling around the country with the aim of “causing disruption and misery across our communities”.
Patel will also use her Conservative Party conference address to announce a £15m expansion in testing suspects for drugs on arrest, and is expected to say that “unconscionable crimes and acts of violence against women and girls have no place in our society”.