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President Donald Trump unlikely to address Britain’s Parliament

Scratch addressing the Houses of Parliament from President Trump's itinerary if and when he makes a state visit to Britain later this year.

The speaker of the 650-member House of Commons, which is the lower house, said Trump is not welcome there.

"Our opposition to racism and to sexism, and our support for equality before the law and an independent judiciary, are hugely important considerations," John Bercow told cheering lawmakers Monday while announcing his opposition to Trump addressing the body.

Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.
Reuters
Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow.

Bercow said he made up his mind about Trump before he ignited a fresh round of outrage by signing an executive order that banned citizens from seven mostly-Muslim from entering the U.S.

"Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall," he said. "After the imposition of the migrant ban I am even more strongly opposed to an address by President Trump in Westminster Hall."

There was no immediate response from the White House to Bercow's snub or from British Prime Minister Theresa May, who had been taking flak from lawmakers from extending Trump an invitation to visit Britain. So far no date for a state visit has been set.

But Bercow is one of three lawmakers who would have to sign off on any Trump address should an invitation be extended, the other two being the Speaker of the House of Lords (the upper house of Parliament) and Lord Great Chamberlain (who runs the parts of the Westminster Palace not controlled by the two houses of parliament).

Bercow stressed that Britain values its "relationship with the United States," but addressing the Lords and Commons are an "earned honor" not an "automatic right."

Three U.S. Presidents have addressed Parliament — Barack Obama in 2011, Bill Clinton in 1995, and Ronald Reagan in 1982. So have leaders of countries that Trump has targeted like Mexico and China as well as religious leaders like Pope Benedict and the Dalai Lama.

Bercow's pronouncement came after lawmakers debated barring Trump altogether from the United Kingdom over his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

"His words are not comical, his words are not funny," the Labour Party's Tulip Siddiq said of Trump. "His words are poisonous."

Meanwhile more than 2 million people have signed an online petition calling for blocking Trump from Britain for "hate speech."

Under British law, parliament has to debate any petition that gathers 100,000 signatures or more.

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Former Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned Trump's remarks as "divisive, stupid and wrong." But he and other senior officials have said they do not think Trump should be banned from Britain.

Labour's Paul Flynn agreed.

"The great danger by attacking this one man is that we can fix on him a halo of victimhood," Flynn said. "We give him the role of martyrdom, which can be seen to be an advantage among those that support him."

"We oppose Mr. Trump for demonizing his opponents," added Conservative Edward Leigh. "If we ban him from the country are we not in danger of doing the same?"