The Speaker of the UK House of Commons, John Bercow, has accused U.S. President Donald J. Trump of “sexism and racism” and said he will block him from addressing the Houses of Parliament during his UK state visit.
The Speaker said it was not within his “pay grade” to stop the state visit going ahead, but that he would do everything in his power to stop the President speaking in the Commons, Lords, Westminster Hall, and the Royal Gallery.
Addressing MPs Monday afternoon, the Speaker said:
What I will say to the honourable gentleman is this: an address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right – It is an earned honour.
Moreover, there are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country, which do not include an address to both houses of parliament. That’s the first point.
The second point is in relation to Westminster Hall. There are three key-holders to Westminster Hall – the Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords, and the Lords Great Chamberlin. Ordinarily, we are able to work by consensus and the hall will be used for a purpose such as an address, or another purpose, by agreement of the three key holders.
Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall, after the imposition… I am even more strongly opposed…
So-far as the Royal Gallery is concerned… I perhaps do not have as stronger say in that matter. It is in a different part of the building, although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver and address there would be issued in the names of the two speakers.
I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery.
He concluded by saying:
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 to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.