Sat, 24 February 2024

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Jeremy Corbyn condemns Tories who refused to back censure for hardline Hungarian PM

2 min read

Jeremy Corbyn has torn into the Conservatives after they tried to protect controversial Hungarian PM Viktor Orban from unprecedented disciplinary action by the EU.

Most Tory MEPs voted against sanctions on the allegedly authoritarian regime - amid claims of racism, press censure and the undermining of judicial independence, among other things. 

The call for disciplinary action - which needed a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament - was carried after it won 448 votes to 197 this morning.

A spokesperson for the Labour leader said it was “absolutely shocking that the Conservative MEPs voted against that motion”.

He added that they had “voted to support the behaviour of the government of Hungary and its abuse of basic democratic rights”.

And he said: “Viktor Orban's government in Hungary has clearly attacked judicial and media independence, denied refugee rights and pandered to anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

“And it was absolutely right that a motion of censure and an investigation under the disciplinary processes of the European Union was launched and voted on…

Theresa May should condemn the Hungarian government and should support this investigation and action.”

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said Number 10 was not consulted by the Tory MEP group ahead of the vote.

According to the Independent, the MEPs were against backing the process because they considered it "politicised". But a few broke ranks to abstain. 

The vote marks the first time the European Parliament has chosen to take action against a member state for apparently breaching the core values of the EU.

It means Hungary could have its voting rights suspended or face other sanctions - although EU member states will now have to decide whether a punishment should be leveled.

However, the nationalist government in Poland - which is itself facing disciplinary proceedings - is expected to back Hungary.

Under Mr Orban, Hungary has taken a hardline stance against immigration, making it illegal for lawyers and activists to aid asylum seekers - arguing they would be aiding illegal immigration.

But Mr Orban has accused those levelling accusations against his regime of “blackmail” and of “serious factual misrepresentations”.

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