After the Conservative Party was the only party in Europe to whip its MEPs AGAINST a motion condemning the new far right Hungarian government whose flagrant antisemitism, islamophobia and crackdown on press and judicial independence has caused much concern, a leading body representing British Jews has expressed their dismay.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies issued an immediate response, warning: “It is very concerning that the Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary’s appalling track record, rather than supporting this motion to protect the rule of law.”
After the far right Hungarian leadership has faced sinister accusations of silencing the media, removing independent judges and human rights NGOs as well as islamophobia and antisemitic attacks on Jewish businessman George Soros, the European Parliament voted 448–197 on an Article 7 motion that could lead to sanctions on Hungary.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government now faces losing its EU voting rights and vowed to challenge the vote.
Orban’s Fidesz party is part of the European People’s Party (EPP) – the right-wing bloc in the European parliament, yet its disturbing policies meant many conservative allies voted against the country.
Which is why many reacted with outrage at Britain’s Conservative Party for whipping all its MPs forcing them to vote against the motion and with the far-right Hungarian government.
Marie van der Zyl, President of the Board of Deputies which represents many British Jews issued a striking statement: “As we have stated previously, we are very alarmed by the messages at the heart of Orban’s election campaign, including his comments about ‘Muslim invaders’, calling migrants ‘poison’, and the vivid antisemitism in the relentless campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
“This whipping up of prejudice by the Hungarian government – alongside restrictions on press freedom and the independence of the judiciary – must be stopped before it undermines Hungary’s democracy irreversibly.
“It is very concerning that the Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary’s appalling track record, rather than supporting this motion to protect the rule of law.”
Theresa May was roundly criticised after the Tory Party appeared to be the only European party to whip its MPs to vote against the motion. The Conservative Party denied its decision was because it is increasingly isolated in the EU due to the way Brexit negotiations are going.
Other support in the European Parliament vote for Viktor Orban – who has in the past described refugees as “Muslim invaders” – came from far-right populists, such as the Front National in France and Poland’s Law and Justice Party – who recently criminalised acknowledging Poland’s role in the holocaust.
Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell reacted: “Is Theresa May going to call out those Tory MEPs, who were whipped to vote to support Viktor Orban against a censure motion for his attacks on refugees and his antisemitism and Islamophobia? If not, I wouldn’t advise her to lecture anyone on racism again.”