Now I’m convinced it will be Hungary because it looks like Brexit all over again
Paul A. Nuttall is a historian, author and a former politician. He was a Member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019 and was a prominent campaigner for Brexit.I believe Viktor Orban could be readying his country for ‘Huxit’. If he is not, then he is playing a high-stakes game of poker with the overlords in Brussels.
Earlier this week, Hungarian newspaper Magyar Nemzet (Hungarian Nation) ran a headline saying, “it is time to talk about Huxit.” This is a huge development because the newspaper is considered to be the unofficial mouthpiece of Orban’s government. Till then it looked like Italy would be the next to leave EU.
Last month, the newspaper announced that “the time has come, now in July 2021, to seriously consider the possibility of our withdrawal from a union of states with a thousand bleeding wounds, showing imperial symptoms, and treating the eastern and central European countries incredibly arrogantly.”
The newspaper also stated that there is a culture clash between Western and Eastern European values, something I argued on RT.com last month. Similarly, Magyar Nemzetopined that “our paths have diverged as the West now consciously… breaks from Christian morality and values. Instead, they aim to build a cosmopolitan, faceless world society based on the unbridled self-enjoyment and self-destruction of the individual… we Hungarians, Poles and central and eastern European people hold on to our cultural and religious foundations.”
Reading this came like a welcome dose of déjà vu to an old Brexiteer like myself. All the way back in November 2010, the Daily Express, became the first mainstream British newspaper to come out in favour of the UK leaving the European Union.
The Daily Express announced that “from this day forth our energies will be directed to furthering the cause of those who believe Britain is Better Off Out.” And continued, “after far too many years as the victims of Brussels larceny, bullying, over-regulation and all-round interference, the time has come for the British people to win back their country and restore legitimacy and accountability to their political process.”
To put the importance of this announcement into some perspective, this was the first time that a mainstream British newspaper had come out in favour of withdrawal from Europe since the 1975 referendum. Suddenly, being in favour of what later became known as Brexit was not the preserve of “cranks and political gadflies,” as one Conservative Party leader called us, and instead became a mainstream idea. In fact, the brave decision taken by the Daily Express was one of the most important events on the long and rocky road to 2016’s Brexit.
And now we have history repeating itself in Hungary. It surely cannot be a coincidence that a mainstream Hungarian newspaper is now questioning its country’s membership of the bloc, especially one with links to the government. I would argue that this has come straight from the Brexit playbook.
And it seems as if Brussels is waking up to fact that Hungary is seriously considering making a dash for the exit door. Yesterday, it was announced that the European Commission had missed the deadline to impose financial penalties on Hungary for not complying with the bloc’s“values.” This will undoubtedly trigger an inter-institutional conflict in Brussels, as the European Parliament has demanded that Orban’s Hungary be punished. The dispute may well end up in the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as the European Parliament is determined to punish Hungary for its stance regarding LGBTQ rights.
However, the fact that the European Commission, which is not bound by public opinion like the European Parliament, is not prepared to invoke sanctions against Hungary is most informative. Whereas the EU was all too eager to recently punish Poland, maybe because it was confident that its government would back down, it seems to be treating Hungary with kid gloves. Maybe the penny has finally dropped in Brussels, and they have realised that to impose financial sanctions would play right into Orban’s hands.
It could be argued that Orban is playing a high-risk game – but that is only the case if he really wants to stay in the EU – and I am not convinced that he does. I suspect that Orban is carefully dipping his toe in the Huxit bath. If he finds the water agreeable, he may well plunge right in, which could spark a crisis in the EU even worse than Brexit. You see, the UK was never really a comfortable member of the EU. It was a reluctant partner, but never a friend, which made divorce at some point an inevitability.
Hungary, however, is much different, as it is client state of Brussels bean-counters. It is a net benefactor of EU funds, and unlike the UK, which handed over cash to Brussels as if it were confetti, it is in receipt of millions of euros every year. But in the end, Hungary may decide that money isn’t everything, and traditional values are more important. And if this does happen, I wouldn’t bet against other Eastern European states following suit, as they grow increasingly uncomfortable with the West’s dictatorial liberalism.