The Tories were the only governing conservative party in western Europe to support Viktor Orbán in the European Parliament’s vote on the rule of law in Hungary.
Orbán deliberately tries to portray the Article 7 action as an attack on the Hungarian nation and people when it is actually a judicial process against his corrupt and anti-democratic government. Clearly, when a country has such weak legal process and distorted media it is difficult to claim that the government truly represents the people.Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar
At euronews, we believe all views matter. To better understand that vote, its reasons and possible consequences, we asked British members of the European Parliament from different political parties to share their perspective on this subject by answering our questions.
Here are the answers of Molly Scott Cato, Green MEP for South West England and Gibraltar:
Euronews: The UK is the only Western European country whose almost all representatives of the ruling party in the EP voted against the Sargentini report on the situation in Hungary. As an opposition MEP, what do you think of this choice of your Conservative colleagues?
Molly Scott Cato: I'm shocked that my government would decide to support Orbán's government which has clearly violated fundamental European values. Here is my press release at the time: http://mollymep.org.uk/2018/09/12/hungary-vote-tories/
Euronews: Do you agree with those who say that the main reason for such a vote was Mr Orbán’s support in Brexit talks?
Molly Scott Cato: Although the British members of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR) provided a legalistic explanation for their vote it was undermined by the fact that they had voted to support a similar resolution in the case of Malta. It's clear that there was a trade here between the British Tories' support for Orbán and his statement earlier this week that Britain should receive a good Brexit deal: https://www.politico.eu/article/viktor-orban-dont-punish-the-uk-because-of-brexit/
This shows the desperately weak position we are left in after voting to leave the EU – our government is now cosying up to fascists. It also makes you wonder the influence that unsavoury far-right politicians in the ECR group have had on the British Tories here in the Parliament.
Euronews: What is your opinion on the situation in Hungary and, in particular, on the rule of law in that country compared to other EU members?
Molly Scott Cato: A number of issues have given cause for concern. First, the undermining of independent media with the takeover last summer of the last independent TV station, HirTV, by a friend of Orbán, and its rapid shift to being a mouthpiece for the Hungarian government. Secondly, the independence of the judiciary has been undermined by the forced retirement of judges and their replacement with Orbán place-men. Then there are the EU funds that are siphoned off to private projects with money disappearing along the way into the pockets of Orbán and his cronies. The worst example is the use of EU money to build a 'nostalgia line' to link two villages where Orbán grew up by train. Finally, the use of hate groups and deliberate creation of Islamophobia has disturbing echoes of an early period of European history that we all hoped we had moved beyond.
Euronews: Do you agree with what Viktor Orbán wrote in his letter to British Conservative MEPs, saying that the Sargentini report “is a verdict against Hungary and the Hungarian people” and not a critic of his government and his policies?
Molly Scott Cato: Orbán deliberately tries to portray the Article 7 action as an attack on the Hungarian nation and people when it is actually a judicial process against his corrupt and anti-democratic government. Clearly, when a country has such weak legal process and distorted media it is difficult to claim that the government truly represents the people.
Molly Scott Cato is a British Member of the European Parliament representing the Green Party.
Opinions expressed in View articles are those of the author.