Piers Corbyn, brother of Jeremy, has had a weird pandemic. He has become the unlikely king of the motley anti-vax/Covid conspiracist alliance of Tommy Robinson thugs and Facebook wellness mums that haunts central London during anti-lockdown protests.
Before Christmas, he was arrested on suspicion of encouraging people to burn down the offices of MPs who voted for new restrictions (“we’ve got to get a bit more physical”). He was previously arrested and fined £10,000 in August 2020 for organising an anti-lockdown rally, and last February was arrested over leaflets comparing the vaccine rollout to Auschwitz.
When he was pictured among “freedom rally” protestors in Milton Keynes last week – some of whom stormed a Covid-19 test-and-trace centre – the Health Secretary Sajid Javid named him and condemned his “vile behaviour”.
Years before the pandemic, Piers Corbyn was best known as a climate change denier. He doesn’t believe in man-made global warming and has insisted the Earth is cooling, using his forecasting business called WeatherAction to try and predict weather events using solar-based activity.
This ties in to his warped suspicions about the establishment – he is thought to believe Margaret Thatcher invented global warming as a pretext for closing the mines, for example, and in a 2016 interview with the New Statesman he compared left-wing environmentalists to Nazis and called for climate scientists to be “locked up”.
And who has encouraged those views during this time? None other than Boris Johnson.
In a December 2010 Telegraph column, the current Prime Minister described Piers as someone who “puts the taxpayer-funded Met Office to shame” and entertained his theory that the world was heading towards an ice age. In another column two years later, he called Corbyn “my old chum” and lauded him as “the world’s foremost meteorological soothsayer”. (Piers’s prediction – given credence by Johnson in the latter column – that the London 2012 Olympics would be a washout didn’t pan out, by the way.)
In his quest for some jolly good fun climate scepticism to feed his readers, the Prime Minister seems to have encouraged one of Britain’s loudest conspiracy theorists.