A top aide to Boris Johnson has claimed the UK will have a ‘special relationship’ with the authoritarian government in Hungary after Brexit.
Tim Montgomerie’s comments have sparked alarm for remarks made in Budapest before Christmas at a meeting hosted by right-wing think tank the Danube Institute.
The social justice adviser, hired by Downing Street after Boris Johnson came to power, was recorded on video making comments where he said he envisages the UK having a close relationship with Viktor Orban’s government.
In the video, uncovered by Buzzfeed, he said: “I think there will be very significant investment by Boris Johnson in relationships, particularly bilaterally, with key European states. 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.”
It’s not the first time Montgomerie has praised the authoritarian government – over Christmas he was criticised for tweeting that the “Hungarian family policy is worthy of close study”.
Jon Trickett MP, Labour’s shadow cabinet minister, said that Downing Street must remove him from his post for making controversial remarks.
He said: “These comments from one of Boris Johnson’s senior advisers are despicable.
“Cosying up to a government which peddles antisemitic and Islamophobic rhetoric, attacks migrants and refugees and undermines judicial and media independence is unacceptable.
“But this is no surprise from a Conservative Party that whipped its MEPs to vote in support of Viktor Orban’s government.
“Tim Montgomerie’s position as ‘social justice’ adviser is untenable and his comments show how far the Conservatives have moved away from traditional British values of fairness and equality.
“Boris Johnson must remove him immediately.”
Labour’s David Lammy tweeted: “We have already seen Boris Johnson attack the courts and other democratic norms in the UK. For his aide, Tim Montgomerie, to lavish praise on Victor Orban, who is dismantling democracy in Hungary, shows how dangerous this government could be. We must do all we can to resist.”
A government spokesperson said that Montgomerie has yet to return to his employment at Downing Street after the election.
They 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.”