LONDON (AP) — The Speaker of Britain’s House of Commons said Monday that he strongly opposes letting U.S. President Donald Trump address Parliament during a state visit to the U.K.
People listen to speakers during a rally at the end of a protest march on Whitehall in London, against U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on travellers and immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries entering the U.S., Saturday, Feb. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Speaker John Bercow’s unusual public intervention makes it unlikely Trump will be given the honor during his trip later this year.
Bercow told lawmakers he would have been against extending the invitation even before Trump’s temporary ban on citizens of seven majority-Muslim nations entering the U.S.
He said that after the migrant ban was issued, “I am even more strongly opposed.”
Courts in the U.S. have suspended the ban, prompting furious tweets from the president.
Bercow’s comments were unusual because speakers in the British Parliament are expected to remain above the partisan fray. He is one of the parliamentary officials who would have to agree on inviting a foreign dignitary to address lawmakers and peers.
World leaders given the honor of making a speech to both houses of Parliament include Nelson Mandela and Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama.
Bercow was cheered by opposition lawmakers when he said that, although Britain values its relationship with the U.S., “our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary, are hugely important considerations.”
Trump is due to visit Britain later this year as the guest of Queen Elizabeth II. The invitation was announced by Prime Minister Theresa May when she visited Trump in Washington last month.
But some Britons are critical of the government’s apparent rush to get close to the divisive president.
An online petition opposing Trump’s state visit has more than 1.8 million signatures and will be debated by lawmakers on Feb. 20 — though they will not hold a binding vote on it.
May’s office said the dates and itinerary for the state visit have not yet been finalized.