European Parliament members (MEPs) have voted in favour of a motion of censure against Hungary and its premier Viktor Orbán for the country’s behaviour toward asylum seekers and minority groups – including Jewish and Roma people.
The motion passed by 448 votes to 197 with 48 abstentions. To be adopted, the proposal required an absolute majority of members (376) and two thirds of the votes cast – excluding the abstentions – so it passed comfortably.
Orbán swept into power on an overtly xenophobic platform and since he came to office Hungary has been accused of not doing enough to stop – and in some cases actively supporting – discrimination against Jews, Roma and Muslims.
The motion to trigger the ‘Article 7’ provisions of the EU treaty also accused Hungary of posing a “systemic threat” to the EU’s “fundamental principles” because of entrenched sexism, corruption, abuse of migrants and concerns over its electoral system, its treatment of the press and its constitution. The vote could ultimately lead to Hungary losing its EU voting rights.
The EU’s official press release about the vote says,
Parliament’s key concerns relate to […] the rights of persons belonging to minorities, including Roma and Jews.
However, Conservative MEPs voted against the censure. In a statement published yesterday on the ‘ConservativeEurope‘ website, the Tory group in the European Parliament explained its reasoning:
Conservative MEPs will vote against the move tomorrow, arguing it interferes in the sovereignty of a member state and goes far beyond the remit of the European Parliament.
So it appears that the Tories think states have a ‘sovereign’ right to be racist. And sexist. And corrupt.
Orbán has called the EU report “The Soros report”, after Jewish businessman George Soros, thereby indulging in an antisemitic smear even about the report accusing him of antisemitism. His behaviour and comments toward Soros and to Jews in general have been described as a ‘war’ them.
Bizarrely, Israel has sided with Orban, with Benjamin Netanyahu calling him a “true friend of Israel“.
The mainstream media has shamelessly promoted the smear that Jeremy Corbyn represents a threat to the UK’s Jewish population, even though data show that fewer Jewish citizens are considering leaving the country under Corbyn than they were when his Jewish predecessor Ed Miliband was Labour leader.
But the fact that Tories think states have a ‘sovereign’ right to be racist should worry all of us.
Especially in light of their claims that the key driver for their push for Britain to leave the European Union was to restore the UK’s ‘sovereignty’ and the fact that, post-Brexit, the UK government will no longer be subject to similar censure if the racist right continues to grow here.
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