Extinction Rebellion wants activists to stage rent strikes, halt tax payments and take out bank loans they never intend to repay in protest at an economic system they claim is fuelling a climate catastrophe.
Internal documents obtained by The Mail on Sunday set out plans for a ‘Money Rebellion’ involving acts of financial sabotage to ‘directly challenge the fundamental principles that govern our national and global economies’.
Despite dire warnings that the coronavirus pandemic has plunged Britain into its worst recession for 300 years, the dossier details how the group – also known as XR – wants to launch a rent strike later this month.
It seeks to legitimise the protest by arguing that ‘our economic system is causing cancer in our planet’. It adds: ‘We will resist irresponsible lenders. Some of us will legally dispute debts, others will refuse to pay debts.’
Barclays Bank is named as a top target, with supporters encouraged to ‘take out a personal loan or a credit card’ and ‘publicly declare that they will not repay the debt’. HSBC, NatWest and Lloyds are also listed.
Activists are warned that in addition to being sued in the civil courts, they could face prosecution under the Fraud Act, but XR says the risk is outweighed by the damage caused to banks’ balance sheets and share prices. Organisers hope the protests will mobilise broader popular support, saying: ‘Any negative publicity could have the same desired effect as any financial consequence of the rebellion.’
The detailed documents suggest that while the pandemic has forced XR to ditch its campaign of street protests, the movement wants to exploit the crisis.
‘Without pressure from activists, we won’t see the increasingly necessary shift to a green economy,’ the dossier says. ‘Just as we have lost our usual means of rebelling, a new opportunity has opened up for us in a time when it is vital that we act.’
It then outlines a desire to launch ‘direct actions against the organisations acting in support of the cancer-causing system (banks, accounting firms, investment bodies, regulatory bodies, legal firms and so on)’.
XR hopes at least 5,000 supporters will refuse to pay their rent, adding: ‘Council tenants and private tenants alike can participate in the strike… on such a scale that it forces a society-wide conversation about our misguided economy.’
According to the documents, it will be followed by a tax strike involving 10,000 people who will sign a conditional commitment to withhold £100 of income tax.