Euroskeptic Hungary PM to launch ads urging Britons to stay in EU

Football Soccer - Iceland v Hungary - EURO 2016 - Group F - Stade V?lodrome, Marseille, France - 18/6/16 Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban REUTERS/Yves Herman Livepic

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - One of Europe’s most euroskeptic leaders, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, will launch a campaign in the British press urging Britons to vote to remain in the bloc at Thursday’s referendum, his spokesman said.

Orban will address the British people directly in newspaper adverts, his office added, joining a line of European leaders and institutions saying Britain should stay.

“Although we have earned accusations of being anti-EU from many sides on numerous occasions, this is a testament to the fact that Hungary is committed to the European Union,” government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said.

The Hungarian leader has clashed with European authorities several times over his unorthodox fiscal and political reforms since sweeping to power in 2010.

But his country has benefited from its membership of the bloc - under the EU’s current financing cycle, which ends in 2020, Hungary gets some 25 billion euros over seven years.

Kovacs said about 250,000 to 300,000 Hungarians were working in the UK.

Immigration has become a heated topic in the referendum debate, with many ‘Leave’ campaigners pointing to the numbers of incomers from EU countries as a reason to quit the bloc.

The campaign to decide Britain’s membership of the European Union restarted on Sunday after a three-day hiatus following the killing of lawmaker Jo Cox, with Prime Minister David Cameron warning that Britons faced an “existential choice” on Thursday.

The latest opinion polls showed the ‘Remain’ camp recovering some momentum, although the overall picture remains one of an evenly split electorate.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs and Michael Nienaber; Editing by Andrew Heavens