The speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow said Monday he was strongly opposed to U.S. President Donald Trump addressing the Houses of Parliament during his proposed state visit to Britain.
Dozens of members of parliament (MPs) have already signed a motion opposing Trump from following in the footsteps of other U.S. presidents by addressing politicians in the centuries old Westminster Hall.
But Bercow’s comment is the strongest message so far against the honor being granted to Trump.
Political commentators in Westminster predicted that Bercow’s very public declaration would enrage 10 Downing Street.
It was British Prime Minister Theresa May who invited Trump to a state visit last month when she became the first national leader to meet the new president after his inauguration.
Bercow’s unexpected message took politicians by surprise when he outlined his opposition, which earned applause from some MPs.
Under the rules in force at the Palace of Westminster, Speaker Bercow is one of three officials required to agree to any visitor addressing MPs and peers from the House of Lords.
Without his agreement, it will not be possible for Trump to address parliament.
Bercow told MPs that before the imposition of Trump’s controversial migrant ban, he would have been strongly opposed to an address by the U.S. president in Westminster Hall.
“After the imposition of the migrant ban, I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall, ” Bercow said.
He added that he would also not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery at the Palace of Westminster.
Bercow added: “We value our relationship with the United States. If a state visit takes place, that is way beyond and above the pay grade of the Speaker.”
“However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”
As Speaker, Bercow is essentially the chairman of the House of Commons, one of the highest jobs in public life in Britain. He is also one of the 650 MPs elected to parliament.
No date has yet been fixed for Trump’s state visit. A petition opposed to him meeting Queen Elizabeth II during a state visit has been signed by almost 2 million people. Enditem