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Boris Johnson to welcome Hungarian leader Viktor Orban to Downing Street

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban arriving at 10 Downing Street - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

Right-wing populist Viktor Orban will visit Downing Street on Friday for talks with the prime minister.

Orban’s visit could put under strain the UK’s relationship with the rest of the European Union, where he has been accused of eroding democracy, the rule of law and press freedoms.

Eurosceptic Orban previously praised Johnson for delivering Brexit, is a close ally of Russian president Vladamir Putin, and has twice blocked the EU from issuing statements condemning China for actions in Hong Kong.

Last year he pushed the EU to lift sanctions on Belarus, where a Ryanair flight was diverted last week so authorities could arrest a prominent journalist who has been critical of the regime.

He has also been criticised for remarks on “Muslim invaders” and describing migrants as “a poison”.

Labour’s shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy criticised the visit saying the Hungarian leader – who she described as one of Europe’s “most regressive” – undermined “the values the UK government says it wants to defend”.

She urged Johnson to tell Orban to take “a robust stance towards the Lukashenko regime in Belarus and Putin’s Russia”.

She said: “When Boris Johnson meets with his Hungarian counterpart, we expect him to challenge the repeated attempts to undermine democratic values.

“Anything less than a robust rejection of these acts is tantamount to rolling out the red carpet.”

However, Downing Street defended the visit and condemned his “divisive and wrong” comments.

“On all human rights issues we do not shy away from raising them, the PM has condemned those specific comments which were divisive and wrong,” his official spokesperson said.

He continued: “As president of the Visegrad group of Central European nations later this year, co-operation with Hungary is vital to the UK’s prosperity and security”.

He said the meeting would “promote UK interests in these areas and discuss issues in the wider region”.

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