Tory peer says MP who rubbed shoulders with ‘racists and homophobes’ at nationalism conference has ‘let the party down’
Former Tory cabinet minister Lord Pickles has hit out at a bisexual MP who has attracted flack for speaking at a conference alongside some of Europe’s most notorious far-right and anti-LGBT+ politicians.
Daniel Kawczynski, the MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, spoke at the National Conservatism event in Rome on Tuesday.
The conference’s line-up included Hungary’s far-right prime minister Viktor Orbán, Italy’s populist leader Matteo Salvini, and Polish Law and Order MEP Ryszard Legutko – who has described homophobia as a “totally fictitious problem.”
The Conservatives have faced calls to suspend Kawczynski, who is bisexual, over his ties to homophobes and anti-Semites.
Tories urged to take action against Daniel Kawczynski
Tory peer Eric Pickles was among those to hit out at the figure, making clear: “Had Daniel attended the conference to confront racists and extremism, he might be justified in attending.
“Unfortunately, his presence has only brought them comfort. He has let fellow Conservatives down.”
The Jewish Chronicle has called on the Tories to act against the MP, making clear in an editorial: “By consorting with racists, in full knowledge of their presence, he sends a clear message that he believes their ideas are legitimate and respectable. The issue for the Conservative Party is, thus, simple.
“If it fails to condemn his attendance at the conference, it condones it. And in doing that it endorses the idea that it is acceptable for representatives of the Conservative Party to share platforms with racists.
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“If Boris Johnson is sincere in his opposition to racism, he will discipline Mr Kawczynski. If he does not, he is not.”
Tory MP blames ‘offence archeologists’ for pointing out that far-right politicians have racist, homophobic views
Hitting back in The Spectator, Kawczynski claimed that “offence archeologists” had dug through “historic remarks from some of the participants that jar with the liberal world view.”
However, it would have taken him the barest of Google searches on Hungary’s Orbán to twig that he is considered one of the foremost racist, anti-Semitic and homophobic world leaders.
Hungarian activists say that Orbán and his far-right Fidesz party have created a culture of persecution of LGBT+ people in the country – warning that the government is complicit in anti-LGBT crackdowns.
In 2012, Orbán created a new Hungarian constitution which bans gay marriage and does not explicitly protect gay people from discrimination. In 2016, he also blocked a Europe-wide agreement on LGBT+ rights.
In October, Coca-Cola was issued a fine by regulators in Hungary over an ad campaign featuring same-sex couples – with Fidesz MPs and the party’s aligned media outlets jumping on the issue to spread anti-LGBT rhetoric.