Speaker Bercow recently declared that he wouldn’t allow President Trump to address MPs in Westminster Hall or the Royal Gallery:
Before the imposition of the migrant ban, I would myself have been strongly opposed to an address by 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… [and] I would not wish to issue an invitation to President Trump to speak in the Royal Gallery…
I feel very strongly that our opposition to racism and to sexism and our support for equality before the law and independent judiciary are hugely important considerations in the House of Commons.
Perhaps the Speaker should adhere to the principle which William Lenthall expressed in his famous remark to Charles I, when the Speaker told the King that he had ‘neither eyes to see nor tongue to speak in this place but as this house is pleased to direct me’.
It may also be noted that Bercow has previously welcomed worse characters. As recently as two years ago, the President of China addressed the Royal Gallery. If Bercow expressed indignation at Trump today, why had he nothing to say about human rights abuses in China then?
An “orchestrated” row
Government sources believe that Bercow may have orchestrated the rows.
The Telegraph reports that Cabinet ministers believe Bercow intentionally created the row as part of a plot to ensure that he stayed on as Commons Speaker until at least 2020 (two years longer than expected).
With his announcement, Bercow has secured the support of numerous Labour, Liberal Democrats and SNP MPs. These MPs will vote against any motion to oust him.
The Speaker’s role requires impartiality and discretion
The Speaker can give the impression of liking to talk about himself – whether it’s sharing his views on Donald Trump or telling students he voted for Britain to remain in the EU.
Bercow must overcome this apparent disposition if he wants to remain in this role. For the role of Speaker requires impartiality, tact and discretion.