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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 06
Trump not welcome here, Speaker of Parliament says
Section One
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Trump not welcome here, Speaker of Parliament says

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Donald Trump is not welcome in the House of Commons, Speaker John Bercow told the House on February 6. Trump had essentially invited himself for a state visit to Britain, and Bercow wanted to head off any idea that he would be asked to address Parliament.

'We value our relationship with the United States,' Bercow said from chair in Westminster Hall.

'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.

'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.'

Opposition Labor leader Jeremy Corbin tweeted 'Well said, John Bercow. We must stand up for our country's values. Trump's state visit should not go ahead.'

Labor member Paul Flynn told the speaker that 'we owe you a debt of gratitude for deciding, in this case, that such an invitation should not be supported by members of this House.'

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farrow added, 'Trump should be under no illusion. We are snubbing him.'

On the government side of the aisle, however, Bercow's comments sparked outrage.

The Chair of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Conservative Crispin Blunt, attacked Bercow for expressing a political opinion.

'He has no idea whether he will be speaking for a majority of the House of Commons, and this is why speakers do not express their opinion,' Blunt said.

'That's the entire point; otherwise they can't remain neutral and above the political fray.'

According to the British website ITV, Conservative members of Parliament are plotting to vote Bercow out.

'Things are moving fast,' one member told ITV. 'He could be gone this week.'

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Theresa May has not called for a vote of no confidence in Bercow. Bercow said - well before his remarks about Trump - that he would retire from the speakership at the end of 2017.

While Bercow has not backed down from his statement on Trump, he did apologize to the Speaker of the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, who complained that he had not been consulted before Bercow made his speech.

'I should make it clear that I was not consulted on that decision or its timing,' Fowler complained.

'However, the speaker contacted me this morning. He told me that while he maintained his view on the issue, he was genuinely sorry for failing to consult with me.

'I do not intend to argue the case for or against Mr. Trump's visit - that is not my role as speaker. But allow me to say that I have spent the last 30 years campaigning against prejudice and discrimination, particularly for the rights of LGBT people and those with HIV/AIDS.'

Before being elected speaker, Bercow was himself a Conservative member of Parliament, but he earned a reputation as a maverick who was often in trouble with his party's leadership.

In particular, Bercow defied the Conservative Party on LGBT issues. In November 2002, when the Labor government introduced the Adoption and Children Act, which would allow unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples to adopt children, the Conservative leadership ordered their members to vote against the bill. Bercow jumped ship and voted with Labor for same-sex adoption rights.

In 2010, Bercow won the Stonewall Politician of the Year award for his work to support equality for Britain's LGBT community.

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