Address to Parliament in UK unlikely

US President Donald Trump returning to the White House from Florida, where he spent the weekend at his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago, in Washington, DC, on Feb 6, 2017.
US President Donald Trump returning to the White House from Florida, where he spent the weekend at his Palm Beach estate Mar-a-Lago, in Washington, DC, on Feb 6, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • The details of US President Donald Trump's state visit to the United Kingdom are still to be pencilled in. But following an extraordinary intervention on Monday evening, it now seems unlikely that he will be extended the honour of addressing both houses of the British Parliament.

Citing "racism" and "sexism", the Speaker of the House of Commons told lawmakers on Monday that he was "strongly opposed" to the President addressing both houses of Parliament in Westminster Hall. President Barack Obama delivered a speech in the mediaeval hall in 2011, the first US president to do so.

"I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump," Speaker John Bercow said. "We value our relationship with the United States. However, as far as this place is concerned, 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."

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced during her visit to the White House last month that Mr Trump had accepted an invitation on behalf of Queen Elizabeth II for a full state visit later this year.

But she has come under pressure to revoke the offer after the backlash triggered by Mr Trump's travel ban. Later this month, lawmakers will debate cancelling the state visit after 1.8 million people signed a petition urging the British government to rescind the offer to avoid "embarrassing" the Queen.

WASHINGTON POST

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 08, 2017, with the headline 'Address to Parliament in UK unlikely'. Print Edition | Subscribe