Right-wing populist Mr Orban, who was having talks with the Prime Minister in Downing St, has sparked uproar for remarks on “Muslim invaders” and describing migrants as “a poison”.
Just hours before the meeting, Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng told Sky News: “As a leader, as politicians, people in Cabinet, people in responsibility, we have to speak to all sorts of people, all sorts of leaders across the world whose values we don’t necessarily share.”
Asked about Mr Orban’s comments on migrants, Mr Kwarteng added: “I think Viktor Orban’s views on migrants are things that I would not endorse in any way. Having said that, I think that we have to engage with the EU, he’s an EU leader. Hungary is an EU country, we were part of the EU and in this post-Brexit world, I think it’s absolutely right for us to be building bilateral relations.”
Speaking ahead of the visit to No10, Mr Orban also stated that Hungary needed to build new bilateral links with Britain after its departure from the EU.
“We agreed on many things, which created a sort of balance in the EU,” he told public radio in Budapest. “We are weaker without them… But the question now is where their place will be in the world. We need to build a new bilateral co-operation.”
But Mr’ Orban’s visit could also put under strain the UK’s relationship with the rest of the EU, where he has been accused of eroding democracy, the rule of law and press freedoms.
Eurosceptic Mr Orban has previously praised Mr 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 its actions in Hong Kong.
Last year he pushed the EU to lift sanctions on Belarus, where a Ryanair flight was diverted last Sunday so authorities could arrest a prominent journalist who has been critical of the regime.
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has called on Mr Johnson to urge Mr Orban to take “a robust stance towards the Lukashenko regime in Belarus and Putin’s Russia”. She also accused the Hungarian leader of undermining “the values the UK Government says it wants to defend”.