Speaker John Bercow defends his Donald Trump opposition: 'I was acting honesty and honourably'

'I was commenting on a matter that does fall in the remit of the chair' Mr Bercow says

Chloe Farand
Tuesday 07 February 2017 20:04 GMT
John Bercow defends his comments on Donald Trump

John Bercow defended his opposition to Donald Trump addressing Parliament, saying he acted “honesty and honourably”.

The Speaker of the House of Commons told MPs he believed the matter was within his remit after he came under the fire of some Conservative MPs, who criticised him for speaking his mind instead of remaining impartial.

“Whilst I completely understand that there can be different views about this matter and we have heard some of them which should always and all be treated with respect, I was commenting on a matter that does fall in the remit of the chair,” he said. “The house has always understood that the chair has a role in these matters."

He added: “I was honestly and honourably seeking to discharge my responsibilities to the House.”

Mr Bercow was responding to Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth, who said the Prime Minister had secured “a favourable outcome of what was undoubtedly a tricky visit” to the US.

He added that there had been a “rather subdued aspect” among his Conservative peers, when Mr Bercow made his comments.

“I do hope, Mr Speaker, that you will help us to ensure that we can have full confidence in your impartiality,” he said.

Mr Bercow previously told the House of Commons he would “strongly oppose an address by President Trump in Westminster hall”, accusing the US President of “racism and sexism”.

Theresa May invited Mr Trump to make a state visit to the UK on her recent trip to the United States. She said he would fly to Britain before the end of the year.

A spokesman for Downing Street previously said: "What John Bercow suggests to Parliament is a matter for Parliament. What I will set out is our position which is we've extended this invitation to the president and we look forward to receiving him later this year."

The Speaker of the Lords, Lord Fowler, said he was not consulted on Mr Bercow’s decision to oppose an address by Mr Trump in Westminster and that he would keep “an open mind”.

Some have called on Mr Bercow to resign on the basis he breached his neutrality.

A petition describing the Speaker's intervention as "inappropriate" and calling for a vote of no confidence against Mr Bercow has been set-up and already has more than 5,000 signatures.

But MPs from across the political divide have voiced their support for Mr Bercow after he spoke out against the US President addressing Parliament.

The Speaker was also applauded by some Labour and SNP MPs in the chamber.

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.”

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron responded: "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.”

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