The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons is “strongly opposed” to letting U.S. President Donald Trump address the parliament during his state visit to the United Kingdom.
John Bercow, whose role as speaker is non-political, made a rare intervention in the political debate Monday when he spoke out against Trump’s planned visit to the UK. Bercow is one of three officials who must approve invitations to speak in Westminster Hall.
“Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” Bercow told MPs. “After the imposition of the migrant ban I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”
Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump during her visit to Washington, D.C., in January. A petition to retract the invitation has received more than 1.8 million signatures. The parliament will debate the petition Feb. 20. (RELATED: British Parliament Will Once Again Have To Debate Banning Trump)
Bercow urged the government to reconsider the invitation altogether to showcase the country’s “opposition to racism and sexism.”
“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,” Bercow said. “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.”
Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, addressed MPs in 2011. Other recent guest speakers include Chinese President Xi Jinping and Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos.
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