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House of Commons Speaker: No Invitation for Trump to Address Parliament

Speaker John Bercow speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons in London on Jan. 18, 2017. (PA Wire via AP)

The speaker of the House of Commons said President Trump will not be welcome to address Parliament on his upcoming state visit to the United Kingdom.

British Prime Minister Theresa May became the first foreign leader to visit the Trump White House late last month. “I have today been able to convey Her Majesty the Queen’s hope that President Trump and the first lady would pay a state visit to the United Kingdom later this year,” May said during joint remarks with Trump on Jan. 27. “And I’m delighted that the president has accepted that invitation.”

More than 1.8 million Britons have since signed a Parliament petition that states, “Donald Trump should be allowed to enter the UK in his capacity as head of the US Government, but he should not be invited to make an official State Visit because it would cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen. Donald Trump’s well documented misogyny and vulgarity disqualifies him from being received by Her Majesty the Queen or the Prince of Wales. Therefore during the term of his presidency Donald Trump should not be invited to the United Kingdom for an official State Visit.”

Labour MP Stephen Doughty got support from 163 colleagues for a motion “to withhold permission from the Government for an address to be made in Westminster Hall, or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster, by President Trump.”

This morning in session, Doughty asked Speaker John Bercow, a Conservative when he was a member of Parliament, to respond to “deep concern” from parliamentarians that Trump would be offered a speaking opportunity.

Bercow said “an address by a foreign leader to both houses of parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honor.”

“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,” Bercow said. “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 Lord Great Chamberlain. Ordinarily, we are able to work by consensus and the hall would be used for a purpose such as an address or another purpose by agreement of the three key holders.”

“I must say to the honorable gentleman, to all who signed his early-day motion and to others who have strong views on either side of the argument, that 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 of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.”

If Trump is invited to speak in the Royal Gallery, Bercow acknowledged he does “not perhaps have as strong a say in that matter; it is in a different part of the building, although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver an address there would be issued in the names of the two speakers.”

“I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump in the Royal Gallery,” he added. “And I conclude by saying to the honorable gentleman this: 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.”

There was no immediate reaction from the White House or 10 Downing Street.