Jewish leader condemns Conservatives for backing far-right Hungarian government

Posted On: 
13th September 2018

A Jewish community leader has criticised the Conservatives after most of the party's MEPs voted against a European Parliament motion condemning Hungary's right-wing government.

Theresa May with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban
PA Images

Mafrie van der Zyl - president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews - said she was "disappointed" at the actions of the Tory group in Brussels on Wednesday.

They voted against imposing sanctions on Viktor Orban's authoritarian regime, which has been accused of racism, anti-Semitism, restricting press freedom and undermining judicial independence.

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The call for disciplinary action - which needed a two-thirds majority in the European Parliament - was carried by 448 votes to 197.

Despite repeated requests, the Conservatives have yet to explain why the majority of their MEPs voted in support of the Orban government, although Downing Street has said it was not consulted beforehand.

In a statement, Ms van der Zyl said: "I note with disappointment that Conservative MEPs have voted in defence of Hungary's right-wing, populist government of Viktor Orban.

"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 anti-Semitism in the vivid campaign against Jewish philanthropist George Soros."

She added: "It is very concerning that Conservative Party MEPs chose to defend Hungary's appalling track record, rather than supporting a motion to protect the rule of law."

 A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn yesterday said it was "absolutely shocking that the Conservative MEPs voted against that motion".

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."