John Bercow urged to lift parliament ban on Donald Trump ahead of state visit

23 April 2019, 18:36 | Updated: 23 April 2019, 20:21

John Bercow has been urged to abandon his ban on Donald Trump addressing parliament during his UK visit.

Lord Fowler, the Conservative Party chairman and Lord Speaker, said there was a "strong case" for a speech by the US president.

He said this was because the visit from 3 June to 5 June is timed to coincide with the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings. The president will attend commemorations in Portsmouth.

In a statement issued by his office, Lord Fowler, who is Mr Bercow's equivalent in the Lords, said: "No request to use Westminster Hall has so far been received. If a request is made then this would need to be considered by both the Speaker of the Commons and myself.

"We would need to discuss the request. Clearly there is a strong case for a speech by the president, particularly on such an important anniversary."

Lord Fowler's challenge to Mr Bercow's authority came as Downing Street said a decision on whether Mr Trump should address MPs and peers in parliament was a matter for the Speaker.

"It's not something over which we have control," said Theresa May's official spokesman when asked if the prime minister backed a speech by the president in parliament.

Mr Bercow effectively vetoed a formal address by Mr Trump in parliament in February 2017, shortly after the president was elected. It was "not an automatic right, it is an earned honour", he told MPs.

Referring to Mr Trump's controversial migration policy, Mr Bercow said: "Before the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.

"But 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.

"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."

A group of Labour MPs have tabled a motion opposing an address in parliament by the US president next month.

And a former Labour minister, Lord Foulkes, has urged Lord Fowler: "Can you please join John Bercow in opposing any suggestion that Donald Trump should be invited to address both houses of parliament?

"Quite apart from the need to express concern about his racist views and misogynistic actions, I believe it would be a security risk and a logistic nightmare as well as an unnecessary expense."

Mr Bercow is himself under attack in a Commons motion, tabled by the former Conservative minister Crispin Blunt, declaring no confidence in him.

Mr Blunt wrote to all MPs asking for support, but said he would not publish the names of backers unless the number reaches 100, in order not to expose them to "retribution" by the Speaker, he said.

The motion states that is "impossible" for the Commons to sustain the belief in the impartiality of the Speaker, which is "indispensable" for its successful operation.

Mr Blunt said that Mr Bercow's decisions on Brexit had been "wholly partial" and helped contribute to "national paralysis" on the issue.