Brexit interview with Iain Lindsay OBE, British Ambassador To Hungary

We already posted about Iain Lindsey, British Ambassador to Hungary who was the “interview neighbour” of Adorján Tóth, owner of Business Management Hungary.

This time we publish an interview with him (by Stephen Linfitt for about Brexit. They are talking about very important questions, still – spoiler!!!- we can calm everyone down: “nothing will change overnight”- as His Excellency sais.


Stephen Linfitt: What does the Leave vote mean for expats rights to live, work, retire, collect a pension, in EU countries such as Hungary?

Iain Lindsay: Nothing will change overnight as a result of this decision. We’re committed to ensuring the best possible outcome for the British people now that decision has been made. What happens in the long term very much depends on the negotiations, although we’re confident we’ll be able to reach an agreement protecting the rights of British citizens in Europe. Securing such an agreement will be a priority for the new PM in our EU negotiations.

Photo by Russell Skidmore for

Photo by Russell Skidmore for


Stephen Linfitt: What does Brexit mean for British business in Hungary, and Hungarian business in the UK?

Iain Lindsay: Much of course will depend on the terms of the negotiations – what happens on the single market will clearly be a factor. I do not foresee that we are going to see much change in relation to British companies coming to Hungary. The reality is that the referendum vote notwithstanding, Hungary is an attractive market for British companies.

It is also an attractive location, with skilled and talented workforce, particularly young Hungarians with good language skills. Which is why you’ve got British companies here like Diageo and British Telecom who use this place as a shared services centre for either the region or the whole of Europe. So I don’t think that Brexit makes much difference to that.

Clearly in the terms of Hungarian companies coming to the UK, some people might be thinking what the future of economic relationship going to be. But I suppose the other reality is that Britain even when out of the EU is the second largest economy in Europe. And Britain will remain important for the EU, in the same way that the EU will remain important for Britain. Hopefully that’s something the people in charge of the negotiations will keep in the forefront of their mind. We are still a major player.


Stephen Linfitt: Any chance of a second referendum? Is it possible that the UK doesn’t leave the EU?

Iain Lindsay: All I can say is that the British government has said it accepts the result of the referendum, and there is no suggestion from the government of a second referendum. The Foreign Office response to the EU-referendum e-petition states that the EU Referendum Act set out the terms under which the referendum would take place but did not set a threshold for the result or for minimum turnout. Parliament will debate the petition on 5 September 2016.

As Prime Minister Theresa May has made it clear several times “Brexit means Brexit and the United Kingdom is going to make a success of it”. This was a once in a generation decision, and the decision has been made. Obviously one can’t tell what may happen over the next couple of years, but it seems pretty clear that the British government has accepted the referendum vote and the Prime Minister [David Cameron] resigned. The negotiations will start and what happens thereafter depends upon the negotiations, but we will want the best possible deal for the UK.


Stephen Linfitt: Do you feel there was any failure by the Government to adequately prepare for a Leave outcome?

Iain Lindsay: The Government made it very clear that the one thing that they had to prepare for – given their assessment that there would be economic and financial market volatility in the event of a vote to leave – was to prepare contingency plans. The former Chancellor and the Governor of the Bank of England have said that they had been planning for this and took steps to calm down the markets. Both of them made clear that financial market volatility in the aftermath of a leave vote was to be expected; what they are concerned about is the longer term economic consequences to the UK of leaving EU.

In terms of other contingency measures, as Government ministers have stated there was no ‘plan B’, because the government felt that there was a strong case to remain. If there had been contingency plans beyond the financial volatility aspect, and had those leaked it would have damaged the government’s credibility. So there was a feeling that there should be ‘no plan B’.


Stephen Linfitt: As you come from Scotland yourself, may we ask you if the Brexit vote means Scotland should have another chance to consider independence?

Iain Lindsay: There was a referendum two years ago in Scotland and the majority of the Scottish people – in terms of the share of the vote of 55 / 45, a greater gap than the referendum we just had – voted to stay in the UK. It was made very clear at the time that we should see this not as a ‘neverendum’, it was once in a generation decision. By the terms of the Edinburgh Agreement both sides – the British Government and the Scottish Devolved Administration – agreed that they would abide by the outcome.

It has also been made clear by the Government that the economic rationale for [Scotland] leaving the European Union would now appear to be weaker given that when the campaign for independence kicked off, oil was at 100 US dollars a barrel. Oil is now south of 50 US dollars a barrel. The Scottish economy depends upon oil and gas, so I do not think you need to be a rocket scientist to work out that actually the sums now would be more difficult to add up.

We will ensure that the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom are protected and advanced, so as we prepare for a new negotiation with the European Union we will fully involve the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland Governments. Theresa May’s first official visit as PM was to Scotland.


This is the half of the interview, the rest you can read at XpatLoop.

But before you go, take a look at this video! We still didn’t have the luck to meet Mr. Lindsay personally (have seen him at an event but he seemed to be too busy to talk), but the more we get to know about him the more we wish to meet him. This man is exceptional. So watch out!






 Business Management Hungary