The speaker of Britain’s House of Commons said Monday that he will not allow President Donald Trump to use historic Westminster Hall as a place to address Parliament.
However, British sources indicated Trump was not interested in speaking there to begin with.
Westminster Hall was the site of President Barack Obama’s 2011 address to both houses of Parliament and is the location where British royalty and other famous figures lie in state.
Trump’s recent executive order on immigration was cited as one reason he was not welcome.
“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 by an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” Speaker John Bercow said Monday.
Although Prime Minister Theresa May invited Trump to visit Britain, Bercow, as speaker, has the power to determine who can speak at Westminster Hall.
“We value our relationship with the U.S. If a state visit takes place that is way beyond the pay grade of the speaker. However, as far as this place is concerned, I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are important considerations in the House of Commons,” he said.
“What I will say is this: 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,” he said.
The position of the speaker in Parliament is generally apolitical. The Guardian reported that what it called “government sources” called the speech “hugely political and out of line.”
One government source quoted in the Guardian said, “Bercow better make sure of the president’s plan before he shoots off like this. The clear indications are that the White House are not even planning to address both houses of Parliament.”
However, many liberal members of Parliament were looking to send a message.
“Trump should be under no illusion. We are snubbing him,” said Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron. “We do not want him to speak to us. He is not welcome.”
The issue of Trump’s visit will be debated again Feb. 20, when Parliament, as required, must consider a petition to withdraw May’s invitation to Trump. The petition drew almost 2 million signatures.
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