Donald Trump could be denied Westminster Hall address if he comes to the UK

Move would be major snub to Commander in Chief who wanted to 'do one better' than Barack Obama 

Caroline Mortimer
Sunday 05 February 2017 00:23 GMT
Over a million people have signed a petition calling for the government to cancel Mr Trump's state visit
Over a million people have signed a petition calling for the government to cancel Mr Trump's state visit (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

Donald Trump could be denied the honour of addressing MPs in Parliament’s Westminster Hall as controversy over his state visit mounts.

MPs are due to debate cancelling the new President’s official visit to the UK later this year following outrage over his ban on all citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries coming to the US after a petition was signed by nearly two million people.

But a potential compromise has emerged where Mr Trump would not be allowed to deliver a speech in the mediaeval hall, the oldest and most prestigious part of the Palace of Westminster, and instead speak in the Royal Gallery in the House of Lords – which was built 800 years later and is currently covered in scaffolding.

The move would be a major snub to Mr Trump as Westminster Hall, where Winston Churchill lay in state and Charles I was tried for treason, is traditionally reserved for the most respected world leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyri, Pope Benedict XVI and Barack Obama.

There is a plaque on the floor of the hall commemorating the speech Mr Obama delivered to both Houses of Parliament when he became the first US President ever to address them in 2011.

The solution was reportedly proposed by Speaker John Bercow who is said to be “not happy” about the level of MPs concerns about the idea, the Sunday Telegraph reported.

It came after 150 MPs signed a statement calling for Mr Trump to be denied a parliamentary address.

Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton also had to make do with the Royal Gallery but the snub would be damaging to the ego of the notoriously thin-skinned Commander in Chief.

Stephen Doughty, the Labour MP who created the petition, said denying Mr Trump the chance to address the house like Mr Obama would be a “victory” for the “standards and principles of Parliament”.

Last month, it was revealed Mr Trump wanted a “full Monty” state visit to the UK, involving a Parliamentary address and a visit to the Queen in Buckingham Palace, which would “go one better” than Mr Obama – who he reportedly loathes.

But outspoken select committee chairwoman Sarah Wollaston denounced the idea that he should be given a Westminster Hall address saying it had “great significance” and should be “reserved for leaders who have made an outstanding positive difference in the world”.

She added that this “doesn’t not include Mr Trump” who she described as a “sickening piece of work” and suggested that “those who wish to fawn over him should be free to do so in the Royal Gallery as normal”.

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