UK govt disowns Speaker’s Trump tirade
Mr Speaker’s procession in Westminster. Source: Flickr
The UK government has distanced itself from the Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow’s remarks that Donald Trump should be prevented from addressing parliament during his controversial state visit.
Communities minister Sajid Javid did not criticise Bercow for saying Trump was unfit to address MPs at the iconic Westminster Hall because of parliamentary opposition “to racism and to sexism”.
Javid said the government planned to engage fully with Trump.
“Anyone who knows the Speaker will know that he speaks his mind. But he doesn’t speak for the government,” Javid told the BBC. “The government is very clear: ‘President’ Trump is the leader of our most important ally, he’s elected fairly and squarely, and it’s manifestly in our national interests that we reach out to him and we work with him, and he visits us in the UK.”
Bercow, since becoming Speaker in 2009, has hit the headlines on several occasions, partly because of his Labour-supporting wife.
He has survived attempts to remove him from the role, including from his Conservative colleagues, and revelations about his expenses.
Last month he told Labour MP Paula Sherriff that she would receive an anti-social behaviour order if her behaviour was replicated outside the chamber.
He suggested yoga to several MPs while calling for calm and has criticised MPs for asking for repeated tea breaks or whether they could use the toilet during lengthy Brexit debate last week.
MP Nadhim Zahawi warned his fellow Conservative MP Bercow against hypocrisy after he raised no objections to China’s President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait speaking at Westminster.
“I think the Speaker was unwise to speak out,” Zahawi told the BBC. “He prides himself on his neutrality, to speak for the whole of parliament, and I think to become the story is a bad place to be.”
Zahawi said many MPs were unhappy with China’s repression in Tibet and that Kuwait barred British citizens with dual Israeli nationality.
Zahawi said: “I think he ought to think about his position, and he should come to parliament, at least, to explain why he thinks it’s different for ‘President’ Trump.”
The diminutive Speaker faced scrutiny over his expenses after in November it was revealed that he had spent almost £20,000 of public money to fly to a conference in Japan with an aide.
Last February it was revealed that he had spent thousands of pounds dining with MPs, plus almost £2,000 on a dinner with his Australian counterpart and hundreds of pounds to tune the grand piano in his apartments overlooking the River Thames.