7 Feb 2017

UK speaker opposes Trump addressing Parliament on state visit

9:40 am on 7 February 2017

The speaker of Britain's House of Commons says he is "strongly opposed" to US President Donald Trump addressing parliament during his state visit to the UK.

UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow

UK House of Commons Speaker John Bercow has said the final decision on whether to invite US President Donald Trump to address the House of Commons is above his pay grade. Photo: AFP

Mr Bercow told MPs "opposition to racism and sexism" were "hugely important considerations".

He was applauded by SNP MPs after his comments.

President Trump was invited to make a state visit after meeting Theresa May in Washington last month.

A petition to withdraw the invitation will be debated by MPs on 20 February after attracting 1.8m signatures.

Responding to a point of order in the House of Commons, Mr Bercow set out his opposition to a Parliamentary address as part of the state visit.

He told MPs addressing the Lords and the Commons was "an earned honour" not an "automatic right".

'Pay grade'

As one of the key figures whose approval would be needed for a parliamentary address, Mr Bercow said he would oppose any possible move to invite Trump to speak in either of the two locations which host foreign leaders during state visits.

"Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall," he said.

"After the imposition of the migrant ban I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall."

The Speaker said he would also be involved in any invitation to address Parliament's Royal Gallery.

He added: "I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery.

"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 sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons."

- BBC/Reuters

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