In an unprecedented act, House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has said that Trump should not be allowed to address parliament during his first official state visit to the UK.
- House speaker is typically non-partisan.
- Obama was allowed to address parliament in 2011.
- Bercow one of three “key-holders” who can decide together.
The Speaker’s role is formally non-partisan and primarily involves overseeing debates in parliament; he is not traditionally look to for any political commentary or opinion. However, this changed on Monday when he broke from tradition and entered into the Trump debate.
Bercow announced he was “strongly opposed” to letting Trump address parliament, which Obama did in 2011. “I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for a equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons,” he said to roaring applause.
John Bercow bans Trump from parliament: “Our opposition to racism and sexism…are hugely important considerations.” pic.twitter.com/kSYGKwygbc
— Alan White (@aljwhite) February 6, 2017
Even before the introduction of an immigration ban by President Trump, Bercow says he would have been “very opposed” to an address, however, given that the ban came through it has only strengthened his opinion.
Bercow’s position is far from the only indication that a significant majority of the UK is uncomfortable with Trump’s presidency. Recently a petition was created and signed by more than 1.8 millions people (and counting), which calls for his state visit to be cancelled. Any petition with over 100,000 votes must be debated in Parliament, and this is expected to be discussed by lawmakers on February 20th.
Bercow himself cannot bar Trump from addressing parliament, he is technically one of three “key-holders” that would decide the matter. The other two being the speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, and the Lord Great Chamberlain, Lord Cholmondeley.
There was no indication that Trump wished to address parliament in the first place, with no White House plan in motion – state visits do not necessarily have to involve an address to parliament.
Although Bercow’s position is likely to be frowned upon by May as she looks to build new relations with the U.S in the wake of an impending Brexit, the position that Bercow is taking is being applauded by some:
Speaker Bercow has decided to check people coming into our Parliament VERY CAREFULLY. https://t.co/aXeSd59Svl
— Wes Streeting MP (@wesstreeting) February 6, 2017
Speaker Bercow just cancelled Trump visit to parliament. A proud moment for Commons. Racism and sexism not welcome here.
— Harriet Harman (@HarrietHarman) February 6, 2017