House of Commons Speaker rebuked over Donald Trump ‘veto’

Commons Speaker John Bercow has outlined his opposition to Donald Trump addressing both Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA/PA Wire
Commons Speaker John Bercow has outlined his opposition to Donald Trump addressing both Houses of Parliament. Picture: PA/PA Wire
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House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has been rebuked by his counterpart in the House of Lords over his veto of an invitation to US president Donald Trump to address both houses of parliament on a proposed state visit.

Mr Bercow accused Mr Trump of sexism, racism and a disrespect for the rule of law on Monday, saying he was “even more strongly opposed” to hosting the US president in Westminster Hall in the wake of Mr Trump’s controversial travel ban.

He received a ticking off from Lord Fowler, the Lord Speaker for failing to consult with him before making his statement on Mr Trump’s planned state visit later this year.

A handful of Conservative MPs also attacked Mr Bercow’s stance, with one backbencher calling on him to “think about” his position. But there was little appetite for further criticism, with Tory MP Sir Edward Leigh saying that the Speaker’s authority should be respected.

A Downing Street spokesman said details of Mr Trump’s state visit were still to be confirmed and an invitation to Westminster was a matter for parliament.

Lord Fowler said parliament had to find a “better way” of dealing with controversial invitations that did not give any individual a veto.

Extending the honour of a Westminster Hall address to both houses must be agreed by three keyholders: the Commons Speaker, the Lord Speaker and the Lord Great Chamberlain, who manages other parts of the parliamentary estate.

Lord Fowler told peers that Mr Bercow had said been in touch to say he was “genuinely sorry” about the lack of warning about his statement.

The Lord Speaker said: “I don’t intend to argue the case for or against Mr Trump’s visit, that is not my role as Speaker. But … I’ve spent the last 30 years campaigning against prejudice and discrimination, particularly for the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV/Aids.”

He added: “My view is that I will keep an open mind and consider any request from Mr Trump to address Parliament if and when it is made.”