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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

Updated 10 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."

11 hours ago - Health

U.S. to restrict air travel from 8 countries over new COVID variant concerns

A COVID-19 vaccine is administered. Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The U.S. will impose new air travel restrictions in response to the Omicron variant, a new COVID strain first detected in South Africa, President Biden announced Friday.

The big picture: Air travel from South Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique and Malawi will be restricted starting on Monday.