Commons Speaker denies he’s been ‘leant on’ to allow Chinese officials to attend Queen’s lying-in-state at Westminster Hall – despite suggestions Sir Lindsay Hoyle had tried to ban their attendance – as angry MPs claim there’s been ‘appeasement’ of Beijing
There has been confusion over whether any Chinese representatives would be allowed to view Her Majesty’s coffin following Beijing‘s sanctioning of MPs and peers last year.
It had previously been suggested that Chinese officials would not be allowed access to the parliamentary estate ahead of the Queen’s funeral on Monday.
This is despite other foreign dignitaries being invited to attend the lying-in-state.
In response, China’s foreign ministry suggested Britain was failing to show ‘proper manners to guests’.
With the threat of a diplomatic row breaking out, parliamentary sources have now suggested that – should a Chinese delegation wish to attend the lying-in-state – they would be allowed to do so.
China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan is set to attend the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday on behalf of the country’s President Xi Jinping.
Senior Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith, a leading critic of China, suggested ‘enormous pressure’ had been put on Sir Lindsay and Lords Speaker, Lord McFall, to avert a dispute with Beijing.
But Sir Lindsay this morning denied those claims as he insisted a parliamentary ban on China’s ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, and other accredited Chinese diplomats remained in place.
This suggested that, should Vice-President Wang wish to attend Westminster Hall ahead of Monday’s service, he would be allowed to do so as a representative of China’s head of state – but Ambassador Zheng and other formal Chinese diplomats are still not welcome in Parliament.
In September last year, China’s ambassador was banned from attending an event in Parliament in retaliatory action for Beijing’s sanctioning of MPs and peers.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, the Speaker of the House of Commons, today denied he had been ‘leant on’ to allow Chinese officials to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state
With the threat of a diplomatic row breaking out, parliamentary sources have now suggested that – should a Chinese delegation wish to attend the lying-in-state – they would be allowed to do so
China’s Vice-President Wang Qishan is set to attend the Queen’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on Monday on behalf of the country’s President Xi Jinping
Senior Tory MP Sir Iain Duncan Smith reacted with fury to the news that Chinese representatives would be allowed to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state
Sir Lindsay told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show: ‘I can say nobody has been leaning on me at all. Far from it.
‘My view remains the same that we would not welcome a reception in Parliament and that’s when I stopped the ambassador and accredited Chinese from coming into the House of Commons.
‘Let’s be clear, to hold a reception in the House of Commons when MPs and a peer have been sanctioned is not acceptable.
‘My view remains the same and nothing has changed.
‘But this is not about the politics of a moment, this is about the grief that we all share rather than being overshadowed.
‘But as I say – I’ll repeat again – the sanction against those accredited officials remains in place and will remain so.
‘There is a very easy answer – lift the sanction, we can also then look to see whether we should have a reception in Parliament. But this is not going to happen at the moment.’
Sir Iain, a former Conservative leader, had reacted with fury to the news that Chinese representatives would be allowed to attend the Queen’s lying-in-state in Westminster Hall.
‘It’s clear and obvious that the Establishment leant on the Speakers to give way,’ the ex-Cabinet minister told the Telegraph.
‘The people that win at the end of the day, are the Chinese Communist party which is a brutal, dictatorial and anti-human rights organisation and all we’ve done is given them another victory.
‘It looks like appeasement is back, alive and well in the British Establishment.”
A Foreign Office source denied the claim, telling the newspaper: ‘The Government did not put pressure on the Speaker.’
It has been suggested that questions about access to Westminster Hall during the Queen’s lying-in-state has been complicated by the fact that jurisdiction over the space is shared between the Lord Great Chamberlain – who is appointed by the monarch – and the speakers of the Commons and the Lords.
A number of MPs have criticised the invitation to China’s President Xi to the Queen’s funeral, which comes just 18 months after the Commons declared that Uighurs and other minorities in China’s Xinjiang region are being subjected to genocide.
China last year sanctioned a string of MPs – including Sir Iain – and peers over their condemnation of the country’s actions in Xinjiang.