Trump UK visit: Lord speaker confirms US president could speak in parliament despite John Bercow’s ban
The lord speaker has signalled that it would be possible for Donald Trump to speak in parliament without John Bercow’s permission.
Lord Fowler said the US was a “trusted ally” of Britain and that previous guests had been to speak in the Royal Gallery without Mr Bercow’s involvement.
He spoke out in response to The Independent’s report that Lords were pushing for Mr Trump to speak in the gallery following a ban imposed by commons speaker Mr Bercow on the president speaking in Westminster Hall.
Lord Fowler said: “Since becoming Lord Speaker in 2016 I have welcomed both the King of Spain and the President of Colombia to Parliament.
“Both addressed members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords in the Royal Gallery, the use of which was approved by myself together with Black Rod.”
While he said no conversations have yet taken place between the House of Lords and the government regarding President Trump coming to the Royal Gallery, he said requests would be discussed.
He added: “The United States is a long-standing ally and friend of the United Kingdom.”
The move would see President Trump follow in the footsteps of Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, who both made historic addresses in the gallery lined with portraits of monarchs.
But it would also be a challenge to Mr Bercow’s authority, at a moment when the commons speaker is already under intense pressure over disputed bullying allegations.
Any invitation to the president will certainly prove controversial with the British public, with campaigners having promised mass protests whenever the US leader comes.
The plan to bring Mr Trump to Westminster has arisen because while the government was planning a state visit last year, Mr Bercow unilaterally vetoed any event involving the president in Westminster Hall – a part of the Palace of Westminster he has some influence over. Barack Obama made a speech there in 2011.
But with Mr Trump’s July visit now pending, peers have launched a drive to open parliament to the president.
Lord Cormack told The Independent: “He is the President of the United States, our most important ally.