EXCL MPs plan Donald Trump speech boycott as state visit row grows
MPs are planning to stage a boycott if Donald Trump makes a speech to parliament during his state visit later this year, PoliticsHome can reveal.
The move came as Downing Street insisted Theresa May is "looking forward" to welcoming the new US president to Britain, despite huge protests across the country.
They followed President Trump's decision to ban the citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering America for the next 90 days.
A date for his visit has yet to be agreed, but it is expected to take place in the summer.
Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama all addressed parliament when they visited the UK during their terms of office, and President Trump is expected to be afforded the same honour.
More than 70 MPs and peers have signed a motion calling on the parliamentary authorities to "withhold permission from the Government for an address to be made in Westminster Hall, or elsewhere in the Palace of Westminster, by President Trump".
Among the signatories is Labour MP Michael Dugher, who told PoliticsHome: "Given the widespread outrage at Donald Trump's abhorrent views, there is no way he should be afforded an address in Westminster Hall. Though given how many MPs like me would boycott such a speech, if it does go ahead they wouldn't need Westminster Hall - they could probably book the smallest meeting room in Parliament. I, for one, will not be there and it should not go ahead."
Lord Ricketts, the former chief civil servant at the Foreign Office, has accused the Government of putting the Queen in a "very difficult position" by arranging the visit so soon in the Trump presidency.
The Prime Minister's official spokeswoman today insisted there was no prospect of it being cancelled.
She said: "The invitation has been extended, she was happy to do that and looks forward to hosting the president and that will be a state visit this year."
The spokeswoman added: "We've been clear on why we think this is the right and important approach. [The US is] one of the country's closest allies and [this is] an opportunity to advance that, and we also set out yesterday there are a number of different people involved in agreeing the process of state visits and extending the invitation which the PM extended on behalf of the Queen."
On the protests against the visit, the spokeswoman said: "Obviously there are a range of views, people have the right to express them and to protest peacefully. We look forward to hosting the president later this year and the invitation stands."