Michael Gove criticised after refusing to condemn Hungarian PM Viktor Orban

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MICHAEL Gove was criticised yesterday after he refused to condemn Hungarian PM Viktor Orban over claims he is anti-democratic, Islamophobic and anti-Semitic.

The Cabinet minister said he had “views” about Mr Orban but was “not going to be drawn” into giving an assessment of individual European leaders.

JEFF OVERS

Michael Gove was criticised for not condemning Hungarian leader Viktor Orban[/caption]

It follows a row last week when Tory MEPs sparked outrage by voting in support of Mr Orban’s right-wing Government.

He has been criticised for using language calling migrants “poison”.

Mr Gove told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show he did not believe that “individual criticisms of the kind you are understandably tempting me to make necessarily help us in ensuring we get both solidarity on the issues that count and the best deal for Britain as we leave the European Union”.

MEPs voted overwhelmingly to back a report recommending action against the Hungarian government over its electoral system, media freedoms, independence of the judiciary, mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.

EPA

Mr Orban, who critics say is anti-democratic, lost a censure vote in the European Parliament last week[/caption]

Mr Gove said it was “not true” the Conservatives supported Mr Orban despite Tory MEPs opposing the measures.

He added: “It’s a long-standing principle of a number of MEPs from different countries and from different parties not to believe that the European Parliament should interfere in or censure the internal democracy of a particular country.”

But Tory peer Lord Finkelstein described the move by Conservative MEPs as “very distressing” and it was condemned by the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the Muslim Council of Britain.

A source said Mr Gove’s “instinct” was to be “critical” of Mr Orban.


Shadow Cabinet office minister Jon Trickett added: “It is shocking that Tory MEPs voted against censuring the reactionary Hungarian government and that Cabinet ministers are now choosing to support the Orban government’s authoritarian and anti-democratic practices.

“Theresa May should do what Gove failed to do and condemn the Hungarian government.”