President Trump will travel to the UK next month and his schedule is being worked out between his staff and UK officials. One item will not be on his agenda that traditionally has been extended to other American presidents – there likely will not be an invitation extended to President Trump to address Parliament.
Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, is still on his high horse about the election of Donald Trump. #TheResistance is alive and well in Great Britain and Bercow is doing his part. He has refused to issue an invitation, as is his job, to President Trump since 2017 and nothing has changed. Other presidents have spoken to Parliament during state visits including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan.
President Trump will be in the UK from June 3-6 to coincide with the 75th anniversary of D-day commemorations. Bercow’s criticism of Trump began in 2017 over the administration’s travel ban, which is referred to as the Muslim ban by those who want to paint the president as a racist. His counterpart in the House of Lords, Lord Fowler, disagrees with Bercow’s decision to shut out Trump. Fowler is all about lifting every voice and encouraging debate.
Bercow told MPs in 2017 that addressing the Lords and the Commons was “an earned honour” and said his opposition had been prompted by the Trump-proposed ban on visitors from Muslim countries.
“I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons,” he said.
Bercow’s stance has been opposed by the Lord Speaker, who said it was unacceptable to bar a longstanding UK ally from addressing parliament.
“I profoundly object to any attempt to ban the president when he is coming to Europe to mark the anniversary of the D-day landings when so many Americans were killed and wounded in defence of our freedom,” Fowler told the Cambridge Union Society, in comments first reported by the Sun.
“It also seems to me that if our role inside Westminster is to uphold the rights of backbenchers and their right to free speech, it would be ironic to apply a different standard to the elected president of the United States,” he said. “It is my view that we should not stifle views we may disagree with or shy away from lively debate.”
This will be Trump’s first state visit to Britain. President Trump and Melania will be guests of the Queen for a private lunch on June 3 after being welcomed to Buckingham Palace. Prince Harry will also join them, though his American wife will not. They met the Queen in 2018 during their visit that year to London. The political day will be June 4 when Trump meets with Prime Minister (for now) Theresa May, while June 5 will be the day for commemorating the D-Day landings at Southsea Common in Portsmouth. For that event, over 300 World War II veterans are expected to be present.
Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and the Liberal Democrat leader, Sir Vince Cable, have both declined an invitation to the formal state dinner for President Trump. Corbyn cites racism and misogyny.
“Theresa May should not be rolling out the red carpet for a state visit to honour a president who rips up vital international treaties, backs climate change denial and uses racist and misogynist rhetoric,” said Corbyn.
“Maintaining an important relationship with the United States does not require the pomp and ceremony of a state visit. It is disappointing that the prime minister has again opted to kowtow to this US administration.”
Corbyn, however, would still like to meet with Trump during his visit. “I would welcome a meeting with President Trump to discuss all matters of interest.” That meeting is as unlikely as Trump addressing Parliament. Corbyn is invited to formal state dinners as a member of the opposition party. While he can’t possibly stomach a dinner in the same room as Trump, he did attend a banquet for the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
It should be noted that Xi Jinping was invited to address Parliament by Bercow in 2015. During a visit to the Virginia House of Delegates Tuesday, he admitted that may have been a poor decision on his part.
Mr Bercow also admitted that inviting Chinese President Xi Jingping to address Parliament in 2015 may have been a mistake.
He reflected: “You make mistakes. Looking back do I think there’s a powerful argument that says perhaps the Chinese President should not have been invited?
“Was it necessarily the right decision? No.
“I was at an earlier stage in my speakership, maybe I was wrong on those matters.”
Bercow also called for civility in political discourse. How ironic, given his inability to overcome his own intolerance towards the president of Britain’s greatest ally. He told the Virginia lawmakers that though he wasn’t mature enough to extend an invitation to President Trump, he sure did like the hospitality extended to him in Richmond.
In the House of Commons, Bercow is often stuck babysitting rowdy lawmakers–sometimes from his own Conservative Party. And on his Richmond junket, the speaker bemoaned the personal attacks that have come to characterize modern politics.
“…as though calumny and vituperation and the distortion of motives and the impugning of integrity could somehow be a substitute for making a coherent argument. Well, they are not.”
Bercow has said he doesn’t want President Trump to address Parliament when he visits next week. But he said he was thrilled with the hospitality he received in Richmond on the legislature’s 400th anniversary.
“Here’s to the next 400 years!”
Protesters are expected to march during the June 4 meeting between Trump and Theresa May. The baby Trump hot air balloon is expected to re-emerge in a bigger version that was present in 2018.
— Trump Baby (@TrumpBabyUK) May 20, 2019