Anti-Carbon-Tax Revolt Escalates As French Lorry Drivers Join Protests

  • Date: 19/11/18
  • The Times

The revolt against President Macron’s environmental taxes escalated today as protesters tried to block fuel depots around France.

 

The move came after a second night of violence in which demonstrators have already caused chaos across the country. Protesters clashed with police, fought motorists and even attacked each other at some sites.

Lorry drivers joined the protest movement today as ministers struggled to restore order with at least 35 motorways partially or completely blocked, along with at least 18 motorway sliproads. Barricades were erected across dozens of other roads around the country.

Benjamin Cauchy, a self-proclaimed spokesman for the so-called yellow vest demonstrators — named after the high-visibility jackets they have adopted as their emblem – claimed that a dozen fuel depots had been blocked.

The revolt was sparked by Mr Macron’s pledge to continue to increase tax on fuel to cut pollution levels. That has since developed into a general rebellion against the rising fiscal burden on French households.

The protesters — who are made up overwhelmingly of people from outside Paris — accuse the French leader of being a champion for the urban elite who has little interest in the countryside.

Officials estimated that 150 protests had been organised across France yesterday, compared with 2,034 on Saturday when 409 people were injured, 14 of them seriously. Twenty-eight police officers were also injured and 282 people were arrested.

The demonstrators have promised to continue their protests for weeks. […]

Last week Mr Macron announced a €500 million package to offset the rising cost of petrol for drivers on low incomes who endure lengthy commutes to work. However, ministers insist that the green taxes will not be stopped.

“A government that would change direction all the time, that would zigzag around the difficulties would not take France where it must be taken,” Édouard Philippe, the prime minister, said last night.

Gérald Darmanin, the budget minister, said he would wean France off petrol altogether with a plan to promote electric vehicles. Marine Le Pen, who hopes that the revolt will translate into votes for her far-right National Rally party at next year’s European elections, called on the government to scrap the tax rise.

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