Trump should not address British parliament: UK Speaker

Trump should not address British parliament: UK Speaker
The Speaker of Britain's House of Commons John Bercow is "strongly opposed" to allowing Donald Trump address members of parliament during the US president's state visit later this year.
2 min read
06 February, 2017
Bercow's statement sparked cheers and applaud from parts of the Commons [AFP]
Donald Trump should not be allowed to address the British Parliament during his state visit later this year, the Speaker of the House of Commons said on Monday, in a dramatic snub to the US president.

A Trump speech to the Commons is "not an automatic right" but "an earned honour", John Bercow, the Speaker said, adding that he was "strongly opposed" to the possibility of an address by the US president following Trump's ban on refugees and travellers from seven majority-Muslim countries.

"Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall," said Bercow, one of three officials who would have to approve the move.

"After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed." 

Bercow added "We value our relationship with the United States […] However, as far as this place is concerned I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons."

Bercow's statement sparked cheers and applaud from parts of the Commons.

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, said: "Further to that point of order: two words: well done."

Prime Minister Theresa May has come under intense pressure for inviting Trump to make a state visit, which she did while at the White House just hours before he announced his travel ban.

Some 163 MPs have signed a parliamentary motion opposing an address by Trump, citing the travel ban and his comments on torture and women.

More than 1.8 million people in Britain signed a public petition calling on ministers to cancel the visit, which MPs are due to debate later this month.

The date and details of the state visit are still being worked out and a spokeswoman for the speaker's office said the government had not made any request for Trump to address parliament.

But a speech to both Houses of Commons and Lords has been a feature of many previous state visits, including one by Barack Obama in 2011.