John Bercow has stunned Westminster with a speech attacking “racist, sexist” Donald Trump, pledging to bar the president from speaking in parliament’s Westminster Hall.
The House of Commons speaker said addressing both houses of parliament in the 11th-century building was “an earned honour” and not an “automatic right”.
Controversy has raged over Trump making a state visit since Theresa May announced the invitation when she went to meet him in Washington in January.
On Monday, Bercow rose to his feet and said he was opposed to Trump addressing parliament “even before” the president signed an order banning people travelling to the US from seven Muslim countries, signed just after May left Washington.
“What I will say is this - an address by a foreign leader to both houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honour. Moreover there are many precedents for state visits to take place to our country which do not include an address to both houses of Parliament.
“The second point is in relation to Westminster Hall there are three keyholders to Westminster Hall, the Speaker of the Commons, the Speaker of the House of Lords and the Lord Great Chamberlain - ordinarily we are able to work by consensus and the hall would be used for a purpose such as an address... I must say to the Honourable Gentleman, to all who signed his Early Day Motions and to others... that before the imposition of the migrant ban I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall. After the imposition of the migrant ban by President Trump I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall.
“So far as the Royal Gallery is concerned... I do not perhaps have as strong a say in that matter... although customarily an invitation to a visiting leader to deliver an address there would be issued in the names of the two speakers - I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump.
“We value our relationship with the United States, if a state visit takes place that is way beyond and above 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 hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also opposed Trump giving a speech and praised Bercow’s intervention.
More than 1.8 million people signed a petition demanding Trump not make a state visit to Britain.
Barack Obama spoke in Westminster Hall during his first state visit to the UK in 2011.
Previous speakers have also included Pope Benedict XVI, Nelson Mandela and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi.