Jeremy Corbyn says Speaker John Bercow is 'absolutely right' to ban Donald Trump from Parliament

'The speaker speaks for Parliament. He is elected by all members of the House'

Adam Withnall
Tuesday 07 February 2017 10:30 GMT
Corbyn issues support for Bercow's statement on Trump

Jeremy Corbyn has said he unequivocally supports a statement by the Speaker of the House of Commons suggesting Donald Trump will not be allowed to address Parliament during his state visit to the UK.

Mr Corbyn was speaking on BBC Radio London, after John Bercow faced calls to resign for saying he "strongly opposed" the President being invited to speak to MPs. The Speaker is traditionally politically neutral, but his firm statement in the House on Monday afternoon was met with applause from MPs.

Asked if Mr Bercow has the right to make such a statement, Mr Corbyn said: "The speaker speaks for Parliament. He is elected by all members of the House, he is therefore independent. He has the authority over Westminster Hall and that aspect of state visits."

He added: "I think he has spoken absolutely clearly [about] Donald Trump, and his misogyny and his racism and his behaviour over international law, particularly on the convention on refugees.

"I think he is absolutely right and I welcome the statement."

Mr Bercow told MPs on Monday he did not have the authority to block Mr Trump's state visit altogether, after Theresa May extended an invitation to the President during her visit to Washington last month.

But he said he had the power as Speaker to oppose an appearance by Mr Trump in Parliament's Royal Gallery, generally regarded as one of the high points of a traditional state visit.

“Before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall,” Mr Bercow said. “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.”

He said that addressing Parliament was "not an automatic right, it is an earned honour". And to the visible shock of MPs, Mr Bercow added in a raised voice: "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."

Government ministers have been critical of Mr Bercow's statement. Sajid Javid told the BBC's Today programme that his actions could set him on a collision course with the Prime Minister, who has been careful to present a positive picture of her relationship with Mr Trump.

He said: "Anyone who knows the Speaker knows that he speaks his mind but he doesn’t speak for the Government.

“The Government is very clear. President Trump is the leader of our most important ally he is elected fairly and squarely.

"And it’s manifestly in our national interest that we reach out to him, we work with him and that he visits us in the UK."

Decisions over who can address Parliament are taken jointly by the Speaker and the Lords Speaker, and a spokesperson for the House of Lords said on Monday evening that the latter - Lord Fowler - had not been consulted ahead of Mr Bercow's statement.

Lord Fowler was reported by the Guardian to be "irritated" at not being informed in advance. He is expected to give his own statement on Mr Trump's visit at 2.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

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