Boris Johnson aide says he hopes UK will have ‘special relationship’ with Viktor Orbán’s Hungary

Tim Montgomerie told a think tank of a ‘significant investment’ in relationships with Budapest


A senior aide to Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he hoped for a “special relationship” with Hungary after Brexit, it has been revealed.

Speaking at an event hosted by the think tank the Danube Institute, Tim Montgomerie said Hungary, where Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has been criticised for using antisemitic tropes, had been home to “an awful lot of interesting early thinking on the limits of liberalism”.

“I think there will be very significant investment by Boris Johnson in relationships, particularly bilaterally, with key European states,” he told the event on December 17, which was recorded and posted online by the think tank.

“I think the French relationship will be significant, and I think this relationship with Budapest will be significant as well.

“Budapest and Hungary have been home, I think, for an awful lot of interesting early thinking on the limits of liberalism, and I think we are seeing that in the UK as well.

“So I hope there will be a special relationship with Hungary amongst other states.”

In Hungary's 2017 parliamentary election, Mr Orbán’s government launched a campaign that featured posters depicting a grinning George Soros, the financier who survived the Holocaust, with the slogan “Let’s not allow Soros to have the last laugh!”

Mr Orbán also once attacked Mr Soros in a speech, saying: “We are fighting an enemy that is different from us.

"Not open, but hiding; not straightforward but crafty; not honest but base; not national but international; does not believe in working but speculates with money; does not have its own homeland but feels it owns the whole world.”

Buzzfeed News, which first reported Mr Montgomerie's remarks, said they had not been signed off by Number 10 and it had yet to be decided whether Mr Montgomerie would return to his adviser role following the general election. 

He became a social justice adviser to Mr Johnson in September.

A Government spokesperson said: “All special advisers are expected to comply with the special adviser code. During the election all special advisers resigned their positions.

"Tim Montgomerie has not currently returned to his position following the election."

In a statement, Board of Deputies President Marie van der Zyl said: “We have in the past raised a number of concerns with the Hungarian Government on issues relating to antisemitism, Holocaust revisionism and different forms of prejudice in the country.

“We have also conveyed these thoughts to the UK Government, which has been largely supportive. We note that the Government has moved to distance itself from the comments made by Tim Montgomerie on this issue.”

Mr Montgomerie, who is also a prominent columnist, has been contacted for comment.

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