In Brief

Will John Bercow be ousted over Donald Trump ban?

Tory MP files no confidence motion against Speaker after he vetoes US President addressing Westminster

John Bercow is facing a bid to oust him from his position as Speaker of the House of Commons after he spoke out against a state visit by US President Donald Trump. 

Tory MP and former foreign minister James Duddridge has filed a no confidence motion in the Speaker which, according to the Daily Telegraph, may be supported by as many as 150 Conservative MPs.

Bercow told parliament he was "strongly opposed" to the idea of Trump addressing Westminster Hall, saying: "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."

Tory MPs have complained that, as the ultimate authority in the chamber, the speaker is expected to remain politically impartial during debates.

Duddridge told Sky News he felt Bercow's comments were "wholly inappropriate" during a time when the government is trying to negotiate trade deals with the US. "This has been happening more and more often from this modernising Speaker. This is perhaps the straw that has broken the camel's back," he said.

The MP claimed Bercow was "not within his remit" and was "using a minor technicality", adding that "any MP can invite anyone into the House of Commons".

Lord Fowler, the Speaker of the House of Lords, expressed his anger that he was not consulted by Bercow before he made the statement.

While the two speakers have the power to "effectively veto" any invitation for foreign leaders to speak to parliament, Fowler said, parliament should look for a "better way in which such decisions can be made" in the future.

Bercow had "over-stepped the mark", he added.

Despite the support for Duddridge's motion, it is unlikely to secure a majority, says the Telegraph, as the Labour Party and a number of Tory MPs have issued a staunch defence of Bercow.

Is John Bercow right to make a stand against Donald Trump?

7 February

John Bercow has ignited a firestorm of controversy after suggesting he would use his position as Speaker of the House of Commons to prevent US President Donald Trump from speaking in Westminster during any future state visit.

Addressing MPs last night, Bercow said Trump's behaviour since taking office clashed with parliament's commitment to "opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary".

He continued: "An address by a foreign leader to both Houses of Parliament is not an automatic right, it is an earned honour," adding that he would be "strongly opposed" to issuing an invite to the President.

Several sections of the House - including at least one Conservative MP, Heidi Allen - applauded Bercow's intervention, while Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who raised the issue in a point of order, said he was "delighted" by the response.

However, several UK newspapers, including some with an anti-Trump stance, said the Speaker may have overstepped his bounds.

The Guardian called in "an extraordinary intervention that divided MPs and annoyed No 10".

It added that Westminster sources had called the former Conservative MP "out of line", while various Tories expressed irritation.

Bercow's sweeping statement "grossly exceeded his authority", said the Daily Telegraph in an editorial condemning the Speaker and dismissing his stand against Trump as "adolescent gesture politics".

He has also been accused of hypocrisy in targeting Trump while failing to raise objections when other leaders of nations with questionable records on human rights addressed parliament during his nine-year tenure.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi said that after allowing Chinese President Xi Jinping and the Emir of Kuwait to address MPs without protest, the Speaker owed it to the House to "explain why he thinks it's different for President Trump".

More than 1.8 million people have signed a petition arguing that Trump should not be offered an official state visit on the grounds that his "well-documented misogyny and vulgarity" would "cause embarrassment to Her Majesty the Queen".

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