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Hunger-striking grandfathers end 25-day fast against government inaction on climate crisis

TWO grandfathers ended a 25-day hunger strike today as Extinction Rebellion (XR) activists made final attempts to meet with party leaders.

XR hunger strikers Peter Cole, 76, and Marko Stephanov, 67, have spent every day outside the Tory Party headquarters since the action began almost a month ago. 
 
In that time, not one Tory politician has engaged with them, with Boris Johnson snubbing every invitation to a meeting. 

While they were unable to secure a one-hour encounter with party leaders on tackling the climate emergency, Mr Cole told the Star he had no regrets about the 25-day hunger strike.

“We’re not regretting anything about it, we’re angry about it!” he said.

“We just cannot understand how the people who we address  with ‘good morning’ every morning can walk by with their noses in the air, breathing the same air as us, humans like us but not acknowledging our presence at all.

“I’m appalled by it.”

Mr Cole remained hopeful today that a meeting with Mr Johnson could come to fruition, with the hunger strikers staying outside the Tory HQ last night. 

Reflecting on the action, Mr Cole, an emeritus professor of respiratory medicine at Imperial College, said the most difficult part of the experience had been the hunger pangs he felt during the first three days. 

After that, he explained: “You don’t feel hungry, but you progressively become slightly disoriented, slow to think, slow to speak and weaker as the days go by.”

Although their hunger strike is over, the health of Mr Cole and Mr Stephanov, an artist from former Yugoslavia, remains at risk as eating can cause the body to shut down. 

“It’s the most dangerous phase, so we will eat tomorrow about a banana’s worth of carbohydrates,” Mr Cole said. 

The pair began the action as part of a global hunger strike by over 500 people, most of whom went without food for seven days. 

They want politicians to discuss and sign the movement’s Three Demands, which they aim to have tabled as proposed legislation in Parliament. 

If passed into law, the Bill would potentially compel the government to declare a climate and ecological emergency, reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025 and establish an advisory citizens’ assembly.

Since the strike began, politicians from the Greens, Plaid Cymru, Labour and the Liberal Democrats have met with the activists, but the Conservatives and the Brexit Party have shunned them.

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