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British Speaker Opposes Trump Address to Parliament

  • VOA News

Britain's Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow, seen in this June 4, 2014 file photo, says he is "strongly opposed" to letting U.S. President Donald Trump address parliament during a state visit to Britain later this year.

The speaker of Britain's lower house of parliament says he is "strongly opposed" to letting U.S. President Donald Trump address parliament during a state visit to Britain later this year.

John Bercow said Monday that a speech to parliament is "not an automatic right, it is an earned honor."

He said he would have opposed the invitation even before Trump's temporary ban on immigration from seven majority-Muslim countries.

"After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed," he said.

Bercow said that while Britain values its relationship with the United States "our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary, are hugely important considerations."

The House of Commons speaker is one of several people whose approval would be needed for any parliamentary address.

Trump is due to visit Britain later this year, but the date and details of the state visit are still being worked out. Trump has not yet been scheduled to address parliament, but such a speech has been a feature of many previous state visits, including one by former President Barack Obama in 2011.

British Prime Minister Theresa May extended the invitation for Trump to visit Britain while she was at the White House last month.

More than 1.8 million British citizens have signed a petition calling on ministers to cancel the visit. However, support for a counter petition supporting Trump's visit has been growing and now has a quarter of million people. Lawmakers are expected to debate the matter later this month.

Bercow said that decision was above his pay grade.

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