Tory MEPs support Hungary’s far-right ruler Viktor Orbán in crunch vote – will May continue to back him in Council?

Theresa May is under growing pressure over the Tories’ support today for Hungarian strongman Viktor Orbán in a crunch European Parliament vote, as MEPs voted overwhelmingly, 448-197, for action to be taken against Hungary for its persistent and blatant breaches of EU values.

Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the European Parliament civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, which is the responsible committee for launching the Article 7 procedure, said:

“It is disgraceful that the Tories voted today to protect Viktor Orbán and deny the Hungarian people justice. There have been attacks on migrants, journalists have been harassed, political opponents have been persecuted and the judiciary has been undermined. Do the Tories seriously believe these actions to be compatible with European values?

“Orban and his government have repeatedly and severely breached the EU’s fundamental values, and must be held to account, and we urge heads of government to support action. The question now for Theresa May is will she stand up for freedom, democracy and the rule of law, or will she continue to back Viktor Orbán?”

Richard Corbett MEP, Labour’s Leader in the European Parliament, added:

“In opposing measures against Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz government, the Tories are condoning his actions, which include attacks on political freedom, equality and human rights, especially those of migrants. Orbán has sought to subvert the constitution, interfere with the judiciary and muzzle the press, and recently introduced new laws that give the state powers to directly criminalise support for asylum seekers.

“Not that we should be surprised, given the Tories sit with Islamophobes, anti-Semites and white supremacists in their Group in the European Parliament. Theresa May and the Tories would do anything and make alliances with anyone, no matter how racist, if they think it will further their interests.”

The proposal will now go to Council, which requires a qualified majority of four-fifths for infringement proceedings to commence.