Tory politicians have been accused of an “absolutely shocking” attempt to prop up Victor Orban’s far right movement in the European Parliament.
The vast majority of MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday voted to pursue disciplinary action against the Hungarian government over alleged breaches of the EU’s core values.
By 448-197, MEPs backed triggering the so-called Article 7 procedure in an unprecedented move which could lead to the suspension of Hungary’s EU voting rights.
Even some members of the European People’s Party bloc - which Orban’s Fidesz movement belongs to - voted against their ally in Budapest.
But number of Conservative MEPs voted to protect the Hungarian government.
Orban has faced international condemnation over Hungary’s electoral system, violations of press freedoms, undermining the judiciary, Islamophobia and the mistreatment of asylum seekers and refugees, and limits on the functioning of non-governmental organisations.
He has also been accused of waging a state-backed anti-Semitic campaign against the Jewish businessman George Soros.
The Tory MEPs who voted against the motion have said they viewed the motion as “politicised” and the wrong approach.
A spokesman for Number 10, however, said that the Prime Minister was not consulted about the stance before the vote.
The spokesman added: “We place great value on the importance of the rule of law.
A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said: “It’s absolutely shocking that Conservative MEPs voted against that motion.
“Effectively they voted to support the behaviour of the government of Hungary, its abuse of basic democratic rights including judicial and media independence, its denial of refugee rights and its pandering to anti-semitism and Islamophobia.”
He added that the Prime Minister should denounce the MEPs’ move.
“As Jeremy said yesterday, Theresa May should condemn the Hungarian government and should support this investigation and action,” he said.
“We hope that a resolution can be found that respect’s a nation’s right to set their own constitutional arrangements within the framework of international norms.”
Asked if UK was in any way seeing Orban warm words on Brexit as a quid pro quo for support in EU for his country, the spokesman replied “no”.
Amjad Bashir, David Campbell Bannerman, Daniel Dalton, Nirj Deva, John Flack, Jacqueline Foster, Ashley Fox, Daniel Hannan, Syed Kamall, Anthea McIntyre, Rupert Matthews, John Procter, Kay Swinburne and Geoffrey Van Orden are thought to have voted against the motion.
Tories Sajjad Karim and Charles Tannock are thought to have abstained from the vote.
Jim Nicholson, Ulster Unionist MEP is also thought to have joined Conservative colleagues.
HuffPost UK has contact the Conservative group of the European Parliament to confirm the voting list and for comment, but they have not yet replied.
In response to the motion being passed, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto called the vote “petty revenge” against Hungary for its tough anti-migration policies.
He also claimed that the vote involved “massive fraud” since abstentions were not counted into the final tally, which made it easier to reach the needed majority.