After a special EU summit convened to sign the documents related to the termination of Britain’s EU membership, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán stated that the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union is truly a “black Sunday” for the European Union.
In an interview given to public television news channel M1, Mr. Orbán stressed that the Hungarians had tried everything they could to convince the UK to remain a member of the European Union – even intervening in the British referendum campaign. But these attempts had failed.
“Now we have no choice but to accept the decision they have made”, he said. The agreement signed on Sunday legally concludes Britain’s withdrawal, and marks the end of negotiations with the UK’s EU partners. “It is no exaggeration to say that this is indeed a sad Sunday. No matter how well one arranges it, a divorce is still a divorce”, he said.
If the British had remained, he stressed, over the next few years there would also be more money available for Hungary from the European Union’s budget.
The Prime Minister said that negotiations had been intensive, with the parties needing to come to an agreement on very important issues such as trade rights, investments and the future of financial services.
He said that “This is not a matter of victory or defeat, but who is better off and who is worse off, and whether there are solutions which benefit us both.” He added that “In situations like this there is little room for such solutions”, and everyone had to make major concessions.
“The Hungarians who are in Britain today are secure, and their situation has not worsened”, he said.
The Prime Minister stressed that Brexit has been one of the most important issues in the European Parliament’s five-year cycle, which is ending next spring. In this sense, he said, it has presented questions about the responsibility of European leaders: “Who is responsible for Brexit? Are the current leaders of the European Union entirely free from blame? The answer to that question is ‘no’.”
In his view, the leaders of the EU bear responsibility for Brexit.
He noted that the British were distanced ever further from the European Union by the latter electing a president of the Commission who was not wanted by the British, but with whom they had to work. “You cannot do this to Europe’s second largest economy”, he said: “They openly rejected someone for a certain position, and then we forced that person into the position anyway. This is what happened.”
Mr. Orbán said that the second mistake had been migration: “What happened was that we let migrants in, but we were unable to keep the British in. It should have been the other way round: we should have kept the British in, and not have let migrants in. If Western European countries had not let in migrants, the British would have been able to stay in the EU. This, however, is now in the past tense, and speculative. Instead of this we should direct our gaze towards the future.”