The UK government has attempted to distance itself from House of Commons Speaker John Bercow over his plan to stop Donald Trump from addressing MPs when the US president visits the UK later this year.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid insisted that Bercow, who branded the Republican "racist and sexist", did not speak for the government on Tuesday morning (7 February).
"Anyone who knows the Speaker knows that he's perfectly capable of speaking his own mind, but he doesn't speak for the government," Javid told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
The senior Conservative also admitted that the government could not stop Bercow, a former Tory MP, from blocking Trump from making a speech in Westminster Hall.
"But it is very clear that we should be working with the US president and that he should be absolutely welcome to our country," he added.
Conservatives are worried that Bercow's intervention will undermine Theresa May's new "special relationship" with Trump. The Tory premier was the first world leader to meet with the property tycoon after his inauguration in January.
According to the BBC senior Conservatives were highly critical. One unnamed Tory MP and former cabinet member told the BBC that Mr Bercow "must be close to standing down", while another said his remarks had gone "way beyond what is acceptable". Another called it an embarrassment to the Commons.
But May's relationship with Trump has also drawn criticism following the US president's decision to temporarily ban people from directly travelling to America from seven Muslim-majority countries, including Iraq and Libya.
The British prime minister failed to initially the condemn the executive order during a trip to Turkey, but May eventually branded Trump's travel ban as "divisive and wrong".
Bercow is expected to retire as Commons speaker in 2018, with Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg tipped as a potential successor.
Just three officials can block politicians or significant figures from addressing MPs and peers in Westminster Hall; the Commons speaker, House of Lords speaker and the Lord Great Chamberlain.
Bercow has previously allowed leaders of countries with poor human rights records, including China's President Xi Jinping (2015) and Indonesia's former President Susilo Yudhoyono (2012), to address parliament.
Human Rights Watch has alleged that Jinping has "overseen numerous rights abuse", whilst the group has accused Yudhoyono of "failing to protect" religious freedoms.