LONDON: The thorny issue of US President Donald Trump speaking to the British parliament might be sidestepped by staging his state visit when lawmakers are not sitting, a newspaper reported on Saturday.
State visits by foreign leaders typically include an address to the Houses of Parliament and Prime Minister Theresa May has invited Trump to Britain this year.
However, John Bercow, the speaker of the lower House of Commons, said Monday he was “strongly opposed” to allowing Trump to address parliamentarians, citing “opposition to racism and sexism”.
His outburst outraged some MPs who felt he had strayed well beyond the remit of the speaker’s chair.
Quoting sources in London’s Westminster government district, The Guardian newspaper said May’s administration had now abandoned the idea of Trump addressing MPs and lords.
Officials were instead trying to set up the state visit at a time when parliament is not sitting, “in order to avoid a formal snub”, the daily said.
The visit would take place from a Thursday to a Sunday, probably at the end of August or early September, it said.
Queen Elizabeth II, who would host the visit, typically spends August and September at Balmoral.
The remote, private estate is in Aberdeenshire in northeast Scotland, where one of Trump’s two Scottish golf courses is located.
The Guardian suggested the traditional state banquet could be held at Windsor Castle, west of London, rather than Buckingham Palace in the city centre, as it would be easier to guard against protesters.
Some 1.85 million people have signed a petition saying Trump should be allowed to visit Britain but not on an official state visit, for fear of causing embarrassment to Queen Elizabeth.
One MP has tabled a motion of no confidence in Bercow, claiming he had strayed beyond the speaker’s neutrality in his anti-Trump outburst.
The Daily Mail newspaper cited a government ministry source as saying Trump had shown “no interest” in addressing the Houses of Parliament, and insisted the visit was “not being delayed”.
Former US presidents Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have addressed both houses of parliament.