Viktor Orbán says migration responsible for Brexit

June 25, 2016

Budapest, 2016. január 7. Orbán Viktor miniszterelnök (j) és David Cameron brit kormányfõ a megbeszélésüket követõ sajtótájékoztatón a Parlamentben 2016. január 7-én. MTI Fotó: Koszticsák Szilárd
Photo: Koszticsák Szilárd, MTI

Now that UK Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned, his Hungarian counterpart has lost one of his strongest allies in the European Union. No wonder Viktor Orbán campaigned for the UK to remain a member state.   The Hungarian prime minister said the European migration crisis was responsible for Brexit.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán thinks migration was one of the reasons people in Great Britain voted for Brexit.

In his weekly radio address, Orbán said the biggest lesson to be learnt from Brexit is that Brussels must “hear the voice of the people”, quoted Hungarian news portal Index.hu. He claimed Brits were looking for answers on how to resist “modern-day migration”, how to “take the course of their lives in their own hands” and “how to keep their island”.

“It seems people were not content with the politics and protection that the European Union offered in this situation,” Orbán said.

We must respect their decision

He thinks the decision of the British people must be respected, as every nation has the right to decide its future.

“Hungary is a member of the European Union because we believe in a strong Europe. But Europe is only strong if we can give answers to important matters like migration, not weakening but making the EU stronger in the process,” he added.

To much surprise, Orbán joined the group of EU leaders who expressed their desire for the UK to remain in the Union.  The Hungarian government even ran an ad in the British press bearing his signature.

“The decision is yours, but I would like you to know that Hungary is proud to stand with you as a member of the European Union,” read the ad, placed in Britain’s Daily Mail.

The loss of a strong ally

Orbán had his own reasons for campaigning in favour of Cameron. The British PM has always been a very strong ally, even a friend of his Hungarian counterpart. (At a recent joint press conference Orbán repeatedly referred to Cameron as “David”). Now that Cameron has resigned and will only be in office until October, Orbán has lost one of his strongest allies within the EU.

In Brussels, both the British and Hungarian PMs were staunch supporters of making the EU more competitive, and wanted to give more power to national parliaments instead of a central rule by Brussels.

We don’t want to be migrants

Still, this is only a minor issue compared to what Orbán will have to do to protect hundreds of thousands of Hungarians living and working in Great Britain.

“Hungarians don’t want to be migrants,” he said, demanding equal rights for Hungarian workers.

It remains to be seen how Brexit might affect Eastern Europeans working in the UK. The prime ministers of the Visegrád 4 countries have already spoken on the phone this morning and there will be more meetings to come.

Polish Foreign Minister Witold Waszczykowski said on Polish state radio that the EU will now have to reconsider the future of European integration. Slovakian Prime Minister Robert Fico on the other hand claimed that “Brexit is not a tragedy but the reality to which European nations must quickly react”.