Commons Speaker John Bercow is facing calls to consider his position after insisting Donald Trump should not be allowed to address Parliament.
The backlash against the Jewish Speaker after his extraordinary attack on the US President saw the chairman of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee appear to question Mr Bercow’s judgment while a Tory backbencher dubbed the comments “unwise”.
The Speaker appeared to brand Mr Trump a “racist” as he said the president’s travel ban on Muslims from seven countries, and refugees, had hardened his hostility to any high- profile Westminster address during the visit.
He was applauded in the Commons on Monday after making his intervention, which reignited the controversy over the state visit granted to the US President. He said: “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,” Mr Bercow told MPs.
He aded, that he was “strongly opposed” to the idea of an address to both Houses of Parliament by Mr Trump before the travel ban, and was now “even more strongly” against such an invitation.
Bercow, spoke to Jewish News in 2015, in which he opened up about the ‘pervasive threat’ of anti-Semitism. He also spoke about his heritage, saying: “My father was Jewish and I went to Finchley Reform Synagogue and had a barmitzvah, although I am secular. My mother is not Jewish, but she converted.”
Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Crispin Blunt criticised Mr Bercow’s comments, saying: “He has no idea whether he will be speaking for a majority of the House of Commons, and this is why Speakers do not express their opinion. That’s the entire point, otherwise they can’t remain neutral and above the political fray.”
Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said Mr Bercow should now “think about” his position and explain his remarks to Parliament. Iraqi-born Mr Zahawi, who sharply criticised Mr Trump’s travel ban after learning he could be caught up in it, suggested Mr Bercow was a hypocrite.
Mr Zahawi said the Speaker had invited Chinese President Xi Jinping despite MPs being unhappy about his policy on Tibet, and the Emir of Kuwait, which bans British dual nationals of Israeli origin, to speak in Parliament.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn backed the Speaker’s stance, hitting out at Mr Trump’s “misogyny and his racism and his behaviour over international law – particularly on the convention on refugees” on BBC Radio London.
He said Mr Bercow was “absolutely right and I welcome his statement”.