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John Bercow. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

John Bercow, speaker of the U.K. House of Commons, said today that while there had been no formal request for President Trump to address Parliament, "nothing has happened since" 2017 — when Bercow cited "racism and sexism" in opposing such an invitation — to change his mind.

Why it matters: Trump will visit the U.K. next week. Bercow noted that while previous presidents had been invited to address Parliament, there was no "unbreakable norm." He said former President Obama, for example, had been "comparably popular" in Europe and the U.K., and a historic figure as America's first black president. Asked by Axios if he would have rejected a formal request from Buckingham Palace to invite Trump, Bercow said to answer would be "engaging in the odd hypothetical."

But, but, but: Speaking at the Brookings Institution in Washington, Bercow conceded that there was a "powerful argument" that it was an error to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to address Parliament in 2015. He said he had been "persuaded" that it would help an important relationship.

  • Bercow also said it was "probably not right" to allow the emir of Kuwait to address Parliament, in 2012.

The speaker also addressed Brexit, an issue that has fractured British politics like nothing else. He said that while the default position remained that the U.K. would leave the EU without an exit deal in October, "Parliament ... will have a lot to say on this matter" before that happens.

Between the lines: There's been speculation that if May is replaced by a hardline Brexiteer like Boris Johnson, as seems likely, the U.K. will be on course to crash out without a deal. Bercow said it was "quite wrong" to think such an outcome was inevitable.

As for his own future, Bercow said:

"Now is a time in which momentous events are taking place and there are great issues to be resolved and in those circumstances it doesn't seem to me to be sensible to vacate the chair. And if I had any intentions to announce on that matter... I would do so to Parliament first.

Go deeper

Acting Capitol Police chief: Officers were unsure of lethal force rules on Jan. 6

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Acting U.S. Capitol Police Chief Yogananda Pittman wrote in prepared remarks for a House hearing on Thursday that officers in her department were "unsure of when to use lethal force" during the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Why it matters: Capitol Police did deploy lethal force on Jan. 6 — shooting and killing 35-year-old Ashli Babbit — but have faced questions over why officers appeared to be less forceful against pro-Trump rioters than participants in previous demonstrations, including those over Black Lives Matter and now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.

United CEO is confident people will feel safe traveling again by 2022

Axios' Joann Muller and United CEO Scott Kirby. Photo: Axios

United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby believes that people will feel safe traveling again by this time next year, depending on the pace of vaccinations and the government's ongoing response to the pandemic, he said at an Axios virtual event.

Why it matters: Misery for global aviation is likely to continue and hold back a broader economic recovery if nothing changes, especially with new restrictions on international border crossings. U.S. airlines carried about 60% fewer passengers in 2020 compared with 2019.

The risks and rewards of charging state-backed hackers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Last week’s stunning indictment of three North Korean hackers laid bare both the advantages and drawbacks of the U.S. government’s evolving strategy of using high-profile prosecutions to publicize hostile nation-state cyber activities.

Why it matters: Criminal charges can help the U.S. establish clear norms in a murky and rapidly changing environment, but they may not deter future bad behavior and could even invite retaliation against U.S. intelligence officials.