The Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow, yesterday answered a question from an MP concerning whether Donald Trump would be invited to address MPs in Parliament if and when he pays his state visit in the UK.
A modicum of research reveals that Bercow gave the only reasonable answer he could: that he would be opposed to such an invitation (can you imagine many MPs turning up to meekly listen to The Donald?). He enlarged that answer with entirely proper reasoning. He emphasised that he spoke for the House of Commons only, that he was only one of three “key holders” of Westminster Hall and of the Royal Gallery. He said, quite rightly, that such an invite is an “earned honour” seldom accorded – not an automatic right. If you look at the list of people who have addressed parliament in Westminster Hall, it is very short. The list of people doing such addresses elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster is somewhat longer. However, I don’t see either George Bushes on the list, for example. Or John F Kennedy (though he was perhaps not President long enough). Not even Dwight D Eisenhower addressed Parliament during his two terms – and he was regarded with vast reverence in this country.
But it was the robustness of Bercow’s accompanying remarks about Trump which were particularly refreshing. He highlighted his “racism and sexism”, his criticism of the judiciary and recent migrant ban.
Full marks to Bercow, say I.
On the subject of Trump’s visit, author Robert Harris yesterday criticised the “amateurism” of Theresa May in extending the invite so soon:
She’s made obvious mistakes, not least the offer of a state visit so early on. And even I know that you don’t give him the thing he’d really like before he’s given you anything at all. That is pretty stupid.
A former distinguished journalist, Robert Harris is a hugely successful novelist with works such as “Fatherland”, “Enigma” and a trilogy on Cicero under his belt. That later opus is about to receive a six-part adaptation from the Royal Shakespeare Company, no less. Robert Harris has been a prominent supporter of the Labour Party for many years.
I have recently been following Robert Harris’ Twitter account. As the world goes somewhat mad, his tweets present a refreshing mixture of sanity, knowledge and humour.
His interview in yesterday’s Evening Standard reveals that he has recently become a supporter of the Liberal Democrats.
He says of the Labour Party:
I don’t believe in the leader and I don’t believe in the policies. The party is dead.
Your support of the Liberal Democrats is very welcome, Robert!