A top Tory aide has been chastised by Jewish leaders after promising a “special relationship” between the UK and a Hungarian government accused of antisemitism.
Tim Montgomerie, a former journalist who now works as Boris Johnson’s social justice adviser, made the comments about Brexit and Viktor Orbán’s authoritarian government a meeting hosted by a right-wing think-tank in Budapest last month.
His remarks, reported by BuzzFeed, show Montgomerie praising the “interesting early thinking” Orbán’s government was doing on “the limits of liberalism” and likened Johnson to Orbán and Donald Trump.
Downing Street said Montgomerie was not speaking for the government, adding that “during the election all special advisers resigned their positions… Tim Montgomerie has not currently returned to his position”.
“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,” said Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl.
“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.”
Last year she met Hungarian Secretary of State Vince Szalay-Bobrovniczky after registering the Jewish community’s “profound disquiet” at the situation in the country.
They discussed a range of concerns, including magazine front covers portraying Hungary’s Jewish community leader showering in cash, and the use of antisemitic tropes by the government in its portrayal of Hungarian-born Jewish philanthropist George Soros, whose foundation has criticised Orbán’s policies.
She also challenged the Hungarian government’s remarks about “Muslim invaders” and migrants, its “moves to downplay the role of historical Hungarian leaders in supporting the Holocaust,” the threatened closure of the Aurora Jewish community centre, and relations between the Government and the Jewish community.