Margaret Thatcher was ‘green and revolutionary’ long before Extinction Rebellion protests and Greta Thunberg, Johnson claims

PM claims his predecessor helped Nelson Mandela bring about the end of apartheid in South Africa

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Monday 07 October 2019 21:28 BST
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher looking pensive at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool.
British prime minister Margaret Thatcher looking pensive at the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool. (Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has hailed Margaret Thatcher as a “true feminist, green and revolutionary” who was fighting global warming long before the “nose-ringed, hemp-smelling” Extinction Rebellion "crusties" currently occupying the streets of Westminster.

The prime minister said his predecessor at 10 Downing Street was taking climate change seriously “long before Greta Thunberg” and was “right” about issues ranging from the EU and the euro to council tax, the "loony left" and apartheid.

And he branded as “regicides” the Conservative MPs who forced her out of office in 1990 amid a row over the EU, paving the way for the more europhile John Major to take her place.

Speaking at the launch in Whitehall’s Banqueting House of the third volume of Charles Moore’s official biography of Thatcher, Mr Johnson also controversially claimed that the former PM had “secret dealings with Nelson Mandela and the ANC to bring about Mandela’s release and the end of apartheid”.

During her time in office, Mrs Thatcher was widely condemned for her opposition to sanctions on the racist apartheid regime in South Africa and her description of Mandela’s ANC as “terrorists”. But after her death, aides including the former UK ambassador to Pretoria revealed she had privately pressed president PW Botha to free Mandela and end apartheid.

Mr Johnson said that to get to the launch, he had to brave the streets filled with "unco-operative crusties and protestors of all kinds" taking part in the Extinction Rebellion action to demand more decisive action against climate change.

He told his audience: “I hope that when we go out from this place tonight and we are waylaid by importunate nose-ringed climate change protestors we remind them that she was right about greenhouse gases

“And she took it seriously long before Greta Thunberg.

“ And the best thing possible for the education of the denizens of the heaving hemp-smelling bivouacs that now litter Trafalgar Square and Hyde Park would be for them to stop blocking the traffic and buy a copy of Charles’s magnificent book so that they can learn about a true feminist, green and revolutionary who changed the world for the better.”

Mr Johnson described Thatcher’s removal from office in 1990 as “a single glittering and terrible event. An assassination The political extinction of a long serving monarch.”

And he borrowed from Mark Antony’s damning description of the murderers of Julius Caesar as “honourable men” in Shakespeare’s tragedy to suggest his own disdain for those who brought about her downfall.

Extinction Rebellion protest in Westminster
Extinction Rebellion protest in Westminster (PA)

“Just like Julius Caesar this drama raises in all our mind the question ‘Were they right? Were the regicides justified in what they did?’” said Mr Johnson

“And i know that some of them are here possiblly tonight and i will not comment on their motives except to say that they are all honourable men.”

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