The speaker of Great Britain’s House of Commons said Monday he would block President Trump from addressing the body during a state visit later this year.
Speaker John Bercow made the remarks in a speech to the House of Commons after a point of order by a fellow Labour member of Parliament, Stephen Doughty, according to a report in The Guardian.
He said he did not have the power to block a state visit by Trump, who he accused of “racism” and “sexism,” but suggested that U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May should rethink her invitation.
“We value our relationship with the U.S.” he said. “If a state visit takes place that is way beyond the pay grade of the Speaker. 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 important considerations in the House of Commons."
He went on to say that it was not an “automatic right” but an “earned honor” for a foreign leader to speak to the House of Commons.
Bercow’s statement shows how Trump’s controversial executive order has frayed ties with some of the U.S.’s closest allies.
Unlike the U.S. Congress, the speaker in the lower chamber of parliament is a non-partisan role that is tasked with maintaining order in the chamber. Bercow is one of the people who would need to sign off on a parliamentary address, if Trump wanted to deliver one.
“In relation to Westminster Hall, there are three key-holders ... the speaker of the House of Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords and the lord great chamberlain, and ordinarily we are able to work by consensus and the hall would be used for a purpose such as an address, by agreement of the three key-holders,” Bercow said.
Trump’s decision to bar travel from seven predominantly Muslim nations for 90 days, and suspend the admission of refugees for four months, has complicated his effort to build close ties with Great Britain and May.
May is hoping to solidify ties with the U.S. by seeking a bilateral trade deal as her nation begins the painstaking process of leaving the European Union. Trump, in turn, is a supporter of the so-called Brexit.
She invited Trump to make a state visit when she met with him at the White House late last month. But critics who say the order amounts to a ban on Muslims have pressured her to cancel the invitation.
The prime minister has criticized Trump’s policy but has refused to rescind the invitation.
Trump and his aides have repeatedly rebuked critics who call the order a Muslim ban, saying the policy is aimed at preventing terrorists from infiltrating the U.S.