Donald Trump is set to be banned from giving a historic address in the British Parliament’s grandest and most prestigious hall. The House of Commons Speaker today announced he did not want to invite the US President to speak in the 11th Century Westminster Hall when he makes a state visit later this year.
John Bercow slammed Trump for “racism and sexism”, his undermining of judges and his migrant ban. He added that although he does not have as much say over a speech in the glittering Royal Gallery in the House of Lords, “I would not wish to issue an invitation”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: “Well said John Bercow. We must stand up for our country’s values. Trump’s State Visit should not go ahead.”
It comes after 163 MPs signed an internal petition demanding Trump be refused the honour due to his migrant ban and comments on torture and women.
As the oldest part of Parliament, Westminster Hall is where Kings and Queens have lain in state for centuries.
It is where ex-President Barack Obama addressed both houses of Parliament in 2011 and is a venue previously used by Nelson Mandela.
Speaker Bercow said he is one of three “keyholders” that would agree to any address in the historic hall. The other two are the Lord Speaker and Lord Great Chamberlain.
Today he told MPs a Westminster Hall address “is not an automatic right – it is an earned honour.” He added: “Ordinarily we are able to work by consensus that the hall would be able to be used for an address by agreement of the the three keyholders. “Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump to Westminster Hall.
“After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump to Westminster Hall.”
There was cheering and applause by MPs as he made the announcement in the parliamentary chamber.
It is a blow to Prime Minister Theresa May, who helped make the earlier-than-usual offer of a full state visit and has cosied up to Trump’s White House in hope of a UK-US trade deal.
Nearly 2million people signed a petition to prevent the state visit and no plans for a Parliamentary address had yet been drawn up.
A Downing Street spokesman said: “We look forward to welcoming the President to the UK later this year. The dates and arrangements for the state visit will be worked out in due course.”
The Speaker added: “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 to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”
Former Deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman, who had vowed to boycott any speech, said: “Speaker Bercow just cancelled Trump visit to parliament. A proud moment for Commons. Racism and sexism not welcome here.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “This is the right decision by the Speaker. The Prime Minister might wish to kowtow to the nasty misogynist that now sits in the Oval Office but no-one else does. We do not want him to speak to us. He is not welcome.
“Trump should be under no illusion. We are snubbing him.”
But a source said the House of Lords’ Speaker Lord Fowler – another “keyholder” for Westminster Hall – was “irritated by the lack of consultation” over John Bercow’s speech.
Later a House of Lords spokesman said: “The Lord Speaker was not consulted by Mr Bercow on his statement.
“The Lord Speaker will make his own statement tomorrow to the Lords.”
Mr Bercow also opposed Mr Trump speaking in the House of Lords’ Royal Gallery – despite raising no objections when Chinese President Xi Jinping did just that in 2015.