The best you can say for this middle finger from across the pond is that it doesn’t come from Theresa May’s party. The speaker of the House, John Bercow, used to be a Tory but as I understand it he was required to shed his party affiliation once he assumed the office. The speaker’s role is supposed to be one of neutrality — at least between the parties. Bercow doesn’t sound so neutral towards Trump.
And Trump’s favorite Brit, Nigel Farage, noticed.
Speaking on his LBC Radio show, he said: ” The Speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the mother of parliaments, of one of the great institutions on the globe, commands respect by being neutral.
“And what Bercow did today was to break every single rule of that. His job is not to make political statements of that nature and I think in doing so he has devalued the office of Speaker, and that is a very sad thing indeed.”
He also branded Mr Bercow a “hypocrite” for previously welcoming the Emir of Kuwait, despite his country’s ban on Israeli Jews going there, and then opposing Mr Trump’s coming to the Palace of Westminster.
Yeah, this reminds me a bit of when American entertainers decide to trumpet their wokeness by boycotting some red state that’s just passed a law on social issues they don’t like. That’s their right, but if they’re going to make a show of piety, they should expect to be called on gross deviations from that piety in other contexts. Various Soviet premiers, including Khrushchev, have addressed Parliament. So has Xi Jinping. So has the president of Singapore, which executes people for drug trafficking. Less than nine months ago, the UK itself voted to leave the European Union due in part to the same fears about terrorism and assimilation of immigrants that inspired Trump’s travel ban — which is temporary, and may well have lapsed or been lifted by the time he visits the UK. If Bercow wants to block him for other reasons, like the “Access Hollywood” tape, that’s his prerogative, but such an ostentatious snub seems … rash when Trump’s commitment to traditional American alliances is already looking sketchy. And imagine the dilemma this creates for May, who’ll now be seen as “stooping” to welcome a figure whom the House of Commons has deemed too unsavory to address it. Seems like a foolish insult to me, particularly when Trump made a point of inviting May to be the first foreign leader to visit the White House during his presidency.
Oh well. The MPs in attendance seemed to like it, including at least one Tory quoted by the Independent. Exit quotation from the prime minister’s office: “We look forward to welcoming the President to the UK later this year. The dates and arrangements for the state visit will be worked out in due course.”