A Tory MP has praised far-right European politicians, before attending an event alongside them today.
Writing in the Spectator yesterday, Daniel Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury, defended his decision to attend the National Conservatism conference in Rome, arguing that Britain needs to hear from far-right leaders.
Jumping to their defence, he said:
“[Viktor] Orban and [Matteo] Salvini are not to everyone’s tastes, of course. And I might not agree with each and every one of their policies.
“They have been elected on huge popular mandates in their countries. They represent serious ideas and concerns, some of which are shared by people in Britain.”
The National Conservatism conference is an international group that discusses the future of right-wing ideas. Attendees like Orban, Hungary’s Prime Minister, have been accused of fostering anti-Semitism – not least by spreading conspiracy theories about Jewish philanthropist George Soros.
Meanwhile, Italian party leader Matteo Salvini has advocated closing Italian ports to NGO asylum rescue vessels and abolishing key protections for asylum seekers.
Kawczynski’s decision to attend the event in the first place, which is being held today, provoked a great deal of controversy.
Margaret Hodge, parliamentary chair of the Jewish Labour Movement, called on Boris Johnson to prevent his MP from attending the event.
Meanwhile, Professor Rafal Pankowski of the anti-fascist group Never Again said the Tories were treading “a dangerous path” by allowing the MP to join “a trans-national cooperation of authoritarian forces.”
But Kawczynski has now gone one step further, and in a ham-fisted attempt to justify his mini-break to Rome, has backed controversial far-right figures.
He added that the conference is just to discuss conservatism and “not the hysterical version promulgated by those who feverishly condemn anyone who expresses a healthy and decent loyalty to his own nation.”
For a Tory MP to flirt so openly with the far-right is pretty dodgy, given how much the far-right loves the Tories.
Perhaps Kawcyznyski should think twice next time.
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