President Trump could address the U.K.’s Parliament in July, as members of the House of Lords reportedly look to outflank the anti-Trump speaker of the House of Commons — who nixed a Trump address last year in protest of the White House’s controversial travel ban.
Details of Trump’s visit to the U.K. have yet to be announced, although he is to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May on July 13. It will be a working visit rather than a state one — a move that was floated when Trump took office but has since been delayed.
The U.K. Independent reported this week that peers in the House of Lords — Parliament’s second chamber — are pushing for Trump to be invited to address members of both houses in the ornate Royal Gallery, where Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton have addressed members.
The lavish room, which features several portraits of monarchs including Richard I and Edward III, is used for occasions such as state receptions and parliamentary ceremonies.
“My own personal views on him are completely irrelevant – we should give him the opportunity to speak to both houses,” Lord Cormack, a Conservative peer, told the news outlet. “He should be received with proper good manners, and as far as a speech is concerned … he would speak where most other presidents have spoken – in the Royal Gallery.”
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The U.K. Telegraph reported that House of Lords authorities would be “broadly sympathetic” to the request if it came from the U.K. government.
Lord Fowler, the lord speaker, said in a statement that no conversations have taken place between the Lords and the U.K. government regarding a Trump address at the Royal Gallery. However, he did not rule out such a move, noting that since he had become lord speaker both the king of Spain and the president of Colombia had spoken at the Royal Gallery.
“Any request for [Trump] to speak in the Royal Gallery would be discussed if and when it were received,” he said in a statement before noting, “The United States is a longstanding ally and friend of the United Kingdom.”
The White House said it had nothing to announce at this time
But such an address would likely infuriate Trump’s critics, both outside Parliament and within. A number of left-wing lawmakers, as well as some in May’s Conservative Party, objected to a state visit by Trump, and mass protests are believed to be planned for the visit in July.
House of Commons Speaker John Bercow took the unusual step last year of ruling out an address to Parliament by Trump, citing the travel ban in particular.
Bercow made a dramatic speech in which he said he “strongly opposed” Trump’s speaking.
“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,” he said.
While Bercow was applauded by left-wing members of the House, he was mocked by right-wing lawmakers and media outlets.
“No doubt this latest act of self-indulgent attention-seeking is another part of his legacy-building. In fact, he will go down in history as a speaker whose arrogance and self-regard besmirched his great office,” an editorial in The Telegraph said.
While Bercow has vetoed the use of Westminster Hall, where President Obama spoke in 2011, The Independent reports that Bercow has less say over the Royal Gallery — and could therefore be bypassed.
Bercow’s office declined to comment for this story.
The move would likely be supported by some members of the House of Commons, too. Tory MP Jacob Rees-Mogg told Sky New s this week that Trump should be given “the reddest of red carpets” and be allowed to speak if he would like.
The announcement of the Trump visit came shortly after French President Emmanuel Macron visited the White House, with both Trump and Macron using the phrase “special relationship” — a phrase normally reserved to the U.S.-U.K. relationship.
One Conservative peer told The Independent that Bercow had “interfered with the diplomatic interests of the country.”
“You have to accept that in the democratic world you do business with whoever is elected, and in this instance, in relations with the US, Britain has let France steal a march on it,” he said.