Hillary Clinton criticises Conservatives for Viktor Orban vote

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Hillary Clinton has criticised Conservative MEPs for refusing to vote against an EU censure of the widely-criticised Hungarian government, saying they have “come a long way since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill”.

The former US presidential nominee also said democracy was in crisis as she accused President Donald Trump of “spreading corruption” and discrediting truth while Russian President Vladimir Putin waged cyber warfare and manipulated social media.

Mrs Clinton was marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) at the Bonavero Institute of Human Rights at the University of Oxford.

In her wide-ranging speech, Mrs Clinton said: “It’s disheartening to watch conservatives in Brussels vote to shield Viktor Orban from censure, including British Tories.

“They have come a long way since the days of Margaret Thatcher and Winston Churchill.”

Last month, just three Conservative MEPs voted against triggering an EU sanctions process against Mr Orban’s government after reports emerged of press freedom violations and anti-Semitism.

Mr Orban eventually lost the vote by 448-197.

Mrs Clinton went on: “Let’s not be fooled by the masquerade that countries like Turkey and Hungary are still real democracies, just illiberal ones.

“Illiberal democracy is a contradiction in terms.”

Hungary’s election was not enough to qualify it as a democracy, she said, as she called on the EU to resist alleged human rights violations.

Hillary Clinton
Hillary Clinton speaks in Oxford (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“I hope the European Union will resist the backsliding we are seeing in the east.”

The former First Lady also discussed the state of human rights and democracy in America, criticising what she called Mr Trump’s “discrediting” of truth.

Mrs Clinton, who lost the presidential vote to Mr Trump in 2016, told the audience: “Even in what we once thought of as sturdy democracies, freedom is under threat, and when freedom is threatened, human rights are vulnerable.

“The crisis extends to my own country, the world’s oldest democracy.

“Since day one, the Trump administration has shown hostility to civil rights.

“The president is degrading rule of law, delegitimising our elections, spreading corruption, undermining our national unity, and discrediting truth, facts, and reason itself.”

Referencing Mr Trump’s travel ban, the prevention of trans people from serving in the military and the separation of undocumented families at the border, Mrs Clinton said: “The United States is facing a toxic backlash to years of social and economic change.”

She went on: “Our divisions even make us targets for foreign manipulation, which seeks to sow chaos and pit us against each other.

“New threats are upon us, especially at the intersection of technology and autocracy.

“The whole world now knows that Putin is waging cyber warfare and manipulating social media to influence elections, and referenda, and to polarise and cripple democracies across the west.

“It’s not just the United States, in Germany, France, Spain, Italy and the Baltic countries and beyond, Kremlin-backed hackers and propagandists have sought to inflame divisions and advance an extreme right-wing agenda.”

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