Boris Johnson criticised for congratulating anti-immigrant Hungarian PM on election win

Posted On: 
9th April 2018

Boris Johnson has been criticised after congratulating right-wing Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban on his re-election.

Boris Johnson said he 'looked forward to working with our Hungarian friends to further develop our close partnership'.
PA Images

Mr Orban's resounding victory came after he placed his Fidesz party's anti-immigrant policies at the heart of their campaign.

Addressing his supporters on Sunday night, the eurosceptic leader said his victory gave Hungarians "the opportunity to defend themselves and to defend Hungary".

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But in a report, observers from the independent Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe condemned the way the election was conducted.

They said the vote was "characterised by a pervasive overlap between state and ruling party resources, undermining contestants’ ability to compete on an equal basis".

The report added: "Voters had a wide range of political options, but intimidating and xenophobic rhetoric, media bias and opaque campaign financing constricted the space for genuine political debate, hindering voters’ ability to make a fully informed choice."

However, Mr Johnson took to Twitter to welcome Mr Orban's win.

Shadow Foreign Office minister Fabian Hamilton said: "Given the already damning reports from international bodies on how this election was conducted, it seems hugely inappropriate for Boris Johnson to congratulate Viktor Orban on winning it.

"And it is disgraceful that he has said nothing about the Fidesz government’s shameful record on political freedom, women's equality and LGBT rights, or Orban’s Islamophobic rhetoric, anti-Semitic attacks on George Soros, and blatantly racist remarks about the diverse nature of other European countries."

Labour MP Peter Kyle of the pro-EU Open Britain group, said Mr Johnson's comments were "not worthy of his position as Foreign Secretary".

He said: "It seems there’s not a single authoritarian leader Boris Johnson won’t pander to in pursuit of his hard Brexit fantasy. Viktor Orban in Hungary is just the latest.

"This is all eerily reminiscent of Boris Johnson’s shameless sucking up to Donald Trump. It demeans our country and it’s not worthy of his position as Foreign Secretary.

"If Brexit means we are loosening ties with our traditional allies in Europe while cosying up to demagogues and populists across the world, people have every right to ask whether it’s really the right path for the country."

Former Labour minister Lord Adonis, of Best for Britain, said: "This is a deeply inappropriate statement by Boris Johnson. Viktor Orban is a dangerous man, whose anti-Semitism and Putin worship is a threat to democracies all over Europe. The best message he could send is to say we're staying in the EU and, alongside out European friends, will stand up to Orban's authoritarianism."