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Dominic Lawson: Is Extinction Rebellion a Big Oil conspiracy?

Dominic Lawson The Sunday Times

The actors in the eco-farce playing out on our streets beggar belief

Revealed: the contents of a WhatsApp exchange over the past few days between Brett, the Texas-based head of Huge Oil Inc, and his Mr Fixit in London, Sebastian.

“Howdy, Seb. What’s the latest about the demos we’ve planned to discredit those eco-freaks trying to wreck our business?”

“Hi, Brett. All systems go for Operation Piss-take. You wouldn’t believe there are so many out-of-work actors anxious to make a few bucks pretending to be members of something called Extinction Rebellion.”

“Well, that’s the market working in all its divine beauty, Seb.”

“It’s going great, Brett — better than we could ever have expected. Just want to give you a few standouts. First of all, the road-blocking has cost businesses millions, ambulances have been delayed and loads of deliveries have been cancelled. Some of the fresh food never made it. So it brings home to everyone how vital the energy we provide for transport is, and how much worse off we’d all be without it. And this is the really sweet bit: because the London traffic was kept idling for hours, they burnt through a whole lot more oil than normal.”

“Seb, all I can say is hallelujah and praise the good Lord who bestowed hydrocarbons for the benefit of all mankind, and most especially Huge Oil Inc, that we may prosper mightily!”

“If you say so, Brett. Anyway, we’ve also got them to declare that on day two they will block public transport, including the Docklands Light Railway — you know, that damn so-called clean electric one. So even more people will have to make their work journey by car — and that means more sales for Huge Oil.”

“You’re the man, Seb! But are the actors convincing everyone that they really are members of a revolutionary anti-capitalist movement? Do they look and sound the part?”

“Absolutely, Brett. We’ve been careful not to have any real working-class actors — not that there are many of those left — or even middle-class actors putting on working-class accents. Our guys know the anti-capitalist movement is run (if that’s the word) by privately educated kids whose parents have given them enough pocket money that they don’t have to do a proper job themselves. And you won’t see a single non-white face on our — I mean their — demo, I guarantee. It’s totally realistic.”

“OK, Seb, but I think you might have gone too far. I heard that one of your actors was pretending to be a 21-year-old called Robin Boardman-Pattison. He said he was going to lead a demo to close down Heathrow airport on bank holiday Friday, and insisted that ‘air travel should only be used in emergencies’. But then it came out that someone of the same name has an Instagram account with loads of pics of recent skiing holidays he’d taken and of various global sunspots he’d visited. I mean, there can’t be two Robin Boardman-Pattisons, even in your crazy country.”

“Brett, I don’t want to accuse you of being naive — perish the thought — but you’ve got to remember the point of all this is to discredit the guys trying to ruin our business. This Robin Boardman-Pattison creation is perfectly judged to make the public think the Extinction Rebellion movement is an exercise in organised hypocrisy — well, not that organised, but you get my point.”

“Sure do, Seb. And I loved the way the little twerp said on Sky News, ‘I won’t stand for people who won’t stand up for what it means to live on this planet, and I won’t stand for anything else’ — and then stood up and walked out of the interview.”

“Yes, Brett. Actually, our guy was basing that bit on a character called Violet Elizabeth Bott in Just William — ‘I’ll thcream and thcream until I’m thick!’”

“Sorry, Seb, you lost me just there . . . anyway, is there more to report?”

“Well, we got someone to go on Iain Dale’s LBC show. Called himself Rupert Read and said he would ‘take the rest of the population’ with him to back Extinction Rebellion’s demand that the UK emit no carbon dioxide at all by 2025. And when Dale asked why he was so confident, he said, ‘I took a taxi to get to a meeting and the taxi driver was hugely supportive.’”

“He said what?”

“Yes, that’s right. And when Dale queried why he didn’t use the Tube, our Rupert said, ‘Because I was in a terrible rush.’ Of course, the interviewer then asked if he thought that was slightly hypocritical, and he said, ‘No, I don’t, Iain.’”

“You’re kidding me. And the public fell for this? They actually believed this was a real member of Extinction Rebellion?” […]

“And which was your favourite actor in our little West End show, Seb?”

“That has to be Dame Emma Thompson. She flew in 5,400 miles from Los Angeles so she could star at the demo. She made a clenched-fist salute, telling the nation that the occupation would continue until the government does what she wants.”

“Thompson? Isn’t she the one who called the UK a ‘cake-filled, misery-laden grey old island’? I kinda thought she had a point there.”

“That’s our girl. And she’s also the climate change campaigner who began her relationship with her husband when he grabbed a lift on the private jet she was using to get to Cannes to promote her latest movie. She said a private plane was ‘very, very romantic’.”

“Man, Dame Thompson really gets the beauty of plentiful gasoline. I reckon she could be our poster girl.”

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