House of Commons Speaker John Bercow addressing Trump’s upcoming visit. Photo: BBC screenshotLondon: The British parliament’s Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow has made a passionate statement arguing why US President Donald Trump should not address MPs from Westminister Hall, citing the parliament’s opposition to “racism and sexism” and commitment to equality.
Bercow said an address by a foreign leader to the Houses of Parliament is not an “automatic right” but an “earned honour”.
The speaker said he was “strongly opposed” to Trump addressing Parliament but became “even more strongly opposed” after the President’s executive order banning travel and immigration by citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations was implemented.
“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,” he said to applause by SNP MPs in the chamber.
Immediately after the Speaker’s speech. the veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner, who has previously likened Trump to Hitler and Mussolini, stood and said “two words: well done”.
The Speaker’s comments follow last week’s fierce row over whether the President should be granted the honour of following in the footsteps of leaders like Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan.
“Four more years of Speaker Bercow. Well done, Mr Speaker,” said the SNP’s Alex Salmond.
Labour parliamentarians also rushed to congratulate the Speaker, a Tory MP.
“Well said John Bercow,” tweeted Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn.
“We must stand up for our country’s values. Trump’s State Visit should not go ahead.”
The prominent Labour MP Harriet Harman also praised the Speaker’s stand.
“Speaker Bercow just cancelled Trump visit to parliament. A proud moment for Commons. Racism and sexism not welcome here,” he said.
But the former leader of UKIP, Nigel Farage condemned the Speaker’s intervention as political.
“For Speaker Bercow to uphold our finest parliamentary traditions, he should be neutral,” said Mr Farage, who does not hold a seat in the British Parliament.
The three key holders – the Speakers of the House of Commons and House of Lords along with the Lord Great Chamberlain – determine for what purpose Westminister Hall can be used.
Some 1.8 million people have signed petition calling for Trump’s state visit to Britain be cancelled, triggering an automatic debate on the matter in the British Parliament.
But Prime Minister Theresa May is adamant the President will visit the country in coming months, although 10 Downing has left the door open to the President being denied a parliamentary address because of public sentiment.
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