The UK’s threat to establish an alternative to the Galileo satellite system is a clever Brexit bargaining position – but should be no more than than that.

This article was submitted to the UK Defence Journal by Tom Jones. Tom is the former Deputy Editor of Raddington Report and has written defence articles for a range of media outlets and can be found tweeting at @Jones219T

Britain’s place in the cosmos, it seems, is under threat. The EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, has consistently reiterated his plans to restrict access to the Public Regulated Service (PRS) aspect of the €10 bn Galileo programme (the highly encrypted element which would be largely used by militaries and government). PRS is currently only available to EU Member states – post-Brexit, the UK will be classed as a ‘third party’, thus excluding British companies from bidding on contracts to build or maintain the Galileo project and requiring the UK Government to negotiate a new deal with the EU in order to provide access to the PRS.

As a response to Barnier’s threats, Business Secretary Greg Clarke has launched a task force to investigate the UK setting up an alternate and independent version of Galileo. Whilst the UK aerospace and space sector is doubtless more than capable of producing such a system, the fact remains that this ambition is largely a bargaining position – and should remain so.

Galileo, which will become active in 2020, is actually duplicating the work of the pre-eminent satellite navigation, the American Global Positioning System (GPS) – it was, in fact, originally set up in order to reduce European dependence on the American system. There is undoubted benefit to having two systems operating concurrently; dual systems increase accuracy, and also provide far greater reliability. The development of a system exclusive to the UK would also provide a huge boon to the UK’s space sector. The withdrawal from Galileo has the potential to see British businesses millions to European rivals and see thousands of hi-tech jobs lost, but the development of a system utilising the full extent of Britain’s aerospace and space sector talent would see the sector boosted, rather than simply protected from any potential losses.

However, Airbus’ UK managing director Colin Paynter stated the cost of development of an exclusive UK system would be between £3 & 5 billion over 4 to 5 years and estimated that the annual cost of the system would be somewhere around £800 million. This would be a huge amount of money to find for the government, especially allowing for the usual cost and time overruns so typical of large government-backed technology projects.

There are non-budgetary problems, too. The UK currently has no launch systems, requiring an outside partner with the capacity – such as the EU, China, India, Russia or the US – to launch and maintain the system. The work that British companies have already done on Galileo cannot seasily be duplicated, either, since some of it may be protected by non-UK patents. There is also the issue of the limited available radio frequency on which to send the signals back – this has already been the subject of a severe disagreement between the US and the EU when Galileo was being developed in 2003, as the US argued Galileo’s signal was too close to that used by GPS.

A more apt solution would be, simply, to renegotiate back into the PRS fold. British companies have valuable skills which the project would do well not to lose; Airbus currently manages the project’s ground control centres, Surrey Satellite Technologies produces the payloads for the satellites and CGI UK have developed much of the security around PRS. Whilst Michel Barnier will no doubt sting Britain at the negotiating table, it is likely that the resulting agreement will likely still be more cost-effective than developing, establishing and maintaining a wholly new system – particularly given that Britain intends to keep a close security relationship with Europe.

It is easy to dismiss nay-saying around a Galileo alternative as unambitious, grey-sky thinking. However, to ‘strike a match, go start anew’ at such great cost would in fact go against the traditions of British space policy, which has always been founded on strong and clever collaborations with partners such as the EU and US providing a huge capability for remarkably modest public expenditure.

To spend the cost of a relatively sizeable naval surface fleet simply to spite our former partners in Europe seems to be rather counter to the British way of space.


  1. Lets get this done, if for nothing else but to show the EU we can do this on our own and our system is far superior to the delayed, overspent and obsolete at point of delivery Galileo system the EU is trying to bring into service.
    There will be knock on unknown benefits from this programme spreading out to other technology areas. The UK IT and advanced space industry is one of our massive strengths and something the EU are being stupid ignoring. They think if they ban us because we are a “3rd country” and a “security risk” that we cannot and will not go it alone. It is all about vengeance and trying to punish the UK for daring to have a democratic vote to leave.
    I think fairly rapidly companies will switch to the UK system, bringing substantial user gains and income into the UK. Just so long as our beloved government do not sell off all rights and ownership to a public company just as soon as it is publicly funded and ready for service.

    • (Chris H) Mr Bell – You can bet the other members of ‘5 Eyes’ are already assessing how they (including the USA) might benefit from an advanced UK system. Not everyone likes dealing with the EU and especially not how they are treating the UK with dismissive arrogance.

      • Agreed in full Mr Bell & Chris.

        We lead the world in so many areas when it comes to design and technology, its time HMG did the same and provided sufficient funding for projects like this one.

        Europe would be very foolish indeed to make an enemy of the UK post Brexit.

  2. Your assuming there is a way for the UK to negotiate back in. Based on what? The Uk did not start of by saying it wanted to build its own system, it was informed by the commission that it would not be able to participate.

    If it cost 3-5 billion then its a small price to pay to maintain a thriving space sector. Also not having a rocket matter’s very little. We just use space X. Galileo satellites were lifted into space by Russian rockets.

    • The UK would be merely reinventing the wheel, not contributing original research or technology. Building its own launch vehicles would do more for the UK space sector than duplicating the US system. Of course, when the EU wants to use ANY British territory for Galileo, tell them…. well, can’t do that.

  3. This article assumes good will from our “European Partners”. This is all part of the European plan to isolate the U.K. It is political and not based on a pragmatic assessment of what is best for both side.

  4. I don’t think the rationale of a UK satellite navigation system would be to spite EU partners. The reality is that it’s a grand strategic vision with enormous potential for the UK and it’s industries, together with the opportunity to surpass Galileo technology with a more up to date approach. In particular if the UK were to offer a more accurate regulated service than Galileo’s PRS then it might potentially offer a more attractive service to users and undermine the calculus underpinning Galileo’s economics. On this one the balls now firmly in the EU’s court.

  5. (Chris H) Sorry Mr Jones you come across as just another EU apologist who cannot for the life of you conceive of a Britain not dependent on the EU for everything. Frankly people like you make me puke with your defeatism. We are better than anything in the EU and have been subjugated by endless internal agreements, regulations and Directives let alone never ending EU Law which we can neither challenge or repeal. Did anyone tell us when the EU was foisted on us without so much as a a by your leave that 20 years later our feet would be embedded in treacle so thick we cannot move? No I don’t think Mr Blair did.

    What you failed to mention was that the UK has been the major supplier of encrypted software and the satellites themselves. The EU assumed British Territories around the globe would be used as tracking and comms. sites. They now owe us £1 Bn for our contributions. So all we have to do is make the encrypted code beyond the EUs reach, deny them the satellites and comms. sites and their wonderful Galileo is a dead duck.

    You say:
    “However, Airbus’ UK managing director Colin Paynter stated the cost of development of an exclusive UK system would be between £3 & 5 billion over 4 to 5 years and estimated that the annual cost of the system would be somewhere around £800 million”

    So lets call it £4 Bn OK? This makes it about 30% of what we pay into the EU every year. And you really think it is the UK that doesn’t have the money? And if that overblown ego on legs Barnier thinks he can push us into a ‘no deal’ fine we then have £37 Bn more of OUR money to invest in OUR country and OUR technology. And the EU’s budget has a huge hole in it. I am sure the Germans and French will love making up that lost £37 Bn plus our £13 Bn a year. Every year.

    No Mr Jones this country already has a huge global reputation in space technology and we are a major supplier of satellites to foreign customers. We have that capability. We will also have the launch system and we of course have the encrypted comms. capability (ask Galileo) and tracking sites on OUR territory. It is (as they say) ‘all there for the doing’.

    So we need to prove nothing to anyone and this is certainly no ‘bargaining chip’. The EU have made it clear we are ‘persona non grata’. Fine. And if I might repeat something in which I firmly believe:

    “This is a British national statement of intent as we leave the shackles of the EU – We will not go quietly into some wilderness. We will be the best in whatever we choose to do. We will succeed or fail by our own abilities and determination. And if likeminded people wish to walk with us they will be most welcome but THIS time it has to be us British who will decide the path we will follow.”

    The EU have made a huge mistake over Galileo just as they have over their future fighter. Both mistakes have triggered the old British Bulldog from his slumbers and he has found his growl. Screw the EU…..

    • Wow (Chris H)
      That was some sermon
      I love it
      Only thing is now is the traitorous remainers will be up in arms with that statement
      Just think of the deal we could have had if they would have excepted a democratic vote
      So at the end of the day its the remainers who got us this crap deal
      The said people who wanted to remain slaves of Germany sorry i meant the EU (thats of course if we dont walk away)

    • I need to buy you a drink sometime. Excellent reply truely brought a tear to my eye. I think with some steely British determination like that we will be just fine.
      I do however think you should go into politics. Chris H for PM. You get my vote.
      Tired of all the deafetism and statements from our supposed leaders. Hunt aaid on record that no matter the EU does we will remain their friends and good committed neighbours. Bloody hell just bend over and take it up the you know what. No wonder no viable deal that is beneficial to the EU and UK is forthcoming. No spine. The EU Muppets need to be reminded who holds many of the cards….it is not them

      • (Chris H) Mr Bell – Mine’s pint of Old Speckled Hen ta … I think Hunt also said that if the EU can’t change their attitude and start being as creative as the UK and we ‘crash out’ (not my words) then the reaction will be a generational fissure between the UK and the EU.

        That suits me just fine if thats what they want. Its them who trouser a £100 Bn a year trade surplus in goods not us. A 10% tariff on that will give us an extra £10 Bn a year … What Remainers cannot grasp is that the EU is an inward looking protectionist Ponzi scheme. It created ‘Qualified Majority Voting ‘ (QMV) for one reason – because only 6 nations pay in and 22 take out. And guess which will never vote against any EU plan? We were the second largest contributor and had 1/28th of the say and mostly we were outvoted. And they call it ‘democratic’ when no one in the UK heard of Von Rumpoy or Tusk or Junker let alone voted for them before they were ‘appointed’. The same clowns who dictate to US and peddle their Project Fear through their useful idiots here in the UK?

        This is just today’s. the BBC runs an anti-Brexit story every day. Yesterday it was that Brexit will damage the Grand National .. ffs…. Oh and of course we will never see a sandwich after Brexit. Forgetting which Earl of which country invented the sandwich …

    • The operational cost is £800m per year, that’s 10% of our net contribution to the EU, plus an estimated £3 – £5 Billion capital cost, which means we will spend 25% of of what we don’t contribute to the EU (assuming no cost overruns and a 5 year implementation), on a system which does the same as GPS, which currently costs us nothing.
      Is this the best use of our resources?

    • As part of 5 Eyes the UK bought into the US satellite constellation when our own Zircon was cancelled.

      That is GCHQ paid NSA for access.

      For our money we part own 3 US Magnum satellites and have the right to task them for an amount of time. These are Sigint satellites.

      This is dated information so no doubt now the assets may have changed.

      As far as recon birds go I don’t know the US satellites we have access to but we must have access under 5 eyes as DIFC at Wyton’s roles include photo satellite BDA and analysis.

      As this arrangement works and considering we are hand in glove with the US in this and many other aspects of intelligence I see no need to spend money duplicating it.

        • Yes a micro satellite. Article was on here wasn’t it. I don’t for one moment think that it has the capability of the established NSA NRO ones.

          • Yeah it was on here, military satellites is not something I know a lot about ie what types they are etc.

            I’ve just read about “zircon” fascinating really and a shame it got cancelled.

  6. I agree with Chris H and Mr Bell.

    Let’s get on with it. We are more than capable.

    If the EU want to restrict us fine.

    We are part of 5 Eyes. They are not. End.

    If other nations have launch facilities what is stopping the UK?

    I’d suggest lack of ambition and will from HMG. Could we use the South Atlantic facilities we have?

    I’m not knowkedgeable at all on the best launch locations and how our northern hemisphere location affects this? The Russians used Plestek and that too is similar I think?

    • I don’t see it as really connected with the EU, the UK / Britain / whatever anyone wants to call it should have its own navigation system and communications, to give political Independence in this modern age of relatively cheap and getting cheaper satellites.

      It’s not rocket science, after all.

    • We could use them but it’s a bit of a pain setting a launch site up and shipping launch vehicles, especially to island locations. Add that to the already established launch facilities and we may well struggle to compete. The niche polar orbit launch capability we could offer is pretty much a game changer and we should focus on that, i.e. what the are doing now up North is good 🙂

    • If only some country were developing a plane so we could fly satellites up to space………….

      It always makes me laugh how Republican France kept so much of its empire we could use Guyana. If only we had a ‘firm’ relationship with them which was more two ways than them just exporting excess population here. Instead we depend on other players. Heck without our tech the whole >cough< European, sorry French, space program would have got nowhere.

  7. @To spend the cost of a relatively sizeable naval surface fleet simply to spite our former partners in Europe seems to be rather counter to the British way of [email protected]

    Really, the last I looked, the UK government has bent over backwards in which to make Brexit as smooth as possible, and in which to accommodate as many EU demands as possible, The only people I see being spiteful is Strasbourg, which is doing everything it can in which to ensure that Brexit is as painful as possible for everyone, in which to ensure that nobody else even contemplates leaving, but is dragging out negotiations in which to encourage the remain in Europe crowd to push for a revote in which to cancel the largest attended legal democratic vote the UK has ever seen. Whilst I support a union of nations in Europe, I do not subscribe to the backscuttling ways of the European elite who have no problem backstabbing anybody who doesn’t supporting their anal desires.

  8. Let’s build a “Newton”. Use the same frequencies of the EU on (that is U.K. IP too) but different encryption codes. Use space x as a launch platform initially in the US and if then if possible fund them with grants etc to build a factory in the U.K. build under license too and we launch from U.K. or from Ascension Island. Build up the infrastructure for us to participate in the next set of space industry. Also at the same time support another home grown launch system or systems. We definitely need something like this – Barnier and co have dune us a favour here.

  9. The government so classify all UK technology as top secret, bring it in house. Make it a national security issues.
    Then tell the EU as of now all Galileo UK sourced technology is off limits. The Galileo project will not have access to UK overseas territories for tracking stations and communications relays. We will need those for our own Stephen Hawkings system. I love that name for a UK designed, built and controlled sovereign system.
    It is time the UK government grew some balls. Take the gloves off and explain to the EU what a no deal means.
    Ireland no border checks and thus free trade via that route into and out of Europe.
    WTO brings £16 billion a year extra into the Exchequer
    No EU bill £37 billion retained for UK infrastructure, defence, NHS. That should fix quite a lot of problems
    We are a rich and powerful country. The EU cannot be allowed to shackle us to their Germanic dominated European steaming pile of excrement federal superstate.
    It is only self defeatist politicians in the UK that can destroy the dream of BREXIT and all that it could deliver long term for our countries future wealth and prosperity.
    The people of the UK voted out. There will be hell to pay if in March 2019 we are still locked into a crap transition deal and paying into the EUs never ending demands for UK taxpayers money.
    Parliament is going to stab us all in the back. The leave deal will go to parliament and the political class will vote it out. Demanding more time to negotiate a better deal. Christ alive there is no good deal. The best we can hope for out of our so called friends and allies is WTO.

    • Agree with plenty of that but the 37 billion withdrawl bill is something we agreed to pay already pre referendum as per EU spending plans. I no longer have a problem with it.

      Mr Bell we pay tens of billions a year already so just think of it as 3 more years of payments then it ends.

      Better than remaining and paying indefinitely.

      I agree with plenty of your bullish words but I’m afraid HMG run the country and they will exit how it suits them.
      It is already happening and it takes more than up and at em words to stop that sadly.

      • (Chris H) Daniele – as usual we are on the same wavelength on this EU thing but can I gently correct you on the £37 Bn payments? Nothing was agreed before the referendum and when it was discussed it was the EU making it ‘Item One’ on the agenda. An sequential agenda that is actually in breach of Article 50 but thats another discussion. The EU needs our money desperately because other people’s money is the glue that holds the festering Ponzi scheme together. Years ago they coined the phrase ‘Treasure Island’. And they meant the UK.

        You should keep in mind the EU’s own mantra on negotiations: “Nothing is agreed until everything is agreed” and everything that has gone on so far is still just part of the overall ‘deal’ whatever that might be. And its up to us to accept, or not, that deal. Otherwise its ‘No Deal’. Either suits me.

        That £37 Bn was partly to do with our liabilities under the EU 7 year Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF) which we leave a year before this current round ends. At worst we are liable for that one year @ £13 Bn (our average contribution). What we have offered (not agreed) is to cover further pension and disbursement costs of our leaving, some of it over many years. To me it was a very generous offer made in the spirit of constructive negotiation. But in typical arrogant EU fashion this was interpreted by the EU as weakness. And so the tone of the talks has continued. We own, for example, 13.7% of the ECB – the third largest shareholder and if we wanted that share back in cash the ECB would collapse. I find it utterly astounding that the EU seems to treat ‘3rd Party’ countries like Canada and Japan with more respect than it treats a country that has been a member for over 40 years, has been the ONLY continuous funding country and is actually its biggest market! A country 100% aligned with all its rules, regulations and standards. This deal should have taken two weeks of typing nothing more.

        Make no mistake we are not legally or indeed morally bound to pay a penny after we leave in March next year if the EU fails to agree a deal to our satisfaction and we walk away. We agreed as members of the EU to fund it. Once we leave that obligation ends. And the EU’s generous pension scheme for its millions of overpaid nonentities is really not our problem.

        The EU acts like some cardsharp poker player but in this game it has come up against a country that holds more Aces and Kings and has been playing this game for centuries longer than the bloody EU has existed. How did we ever allow ourselves to be suckered into all this crap?

        • No worries Chris. I absorb as much as I can from your EU comments as ammunition against Remainers day to day!

    • “The government so classify all UK technology as top secret, bring it in house. Make it a national security issues.
      Then tell the EU as of now all Galileo UK sourced technology is off limits.”

      I’m not sure we could retrospectively classify technology that has already been licensed under commercial terms. Even if the government could step in and somehow do that I think it would send out a very bad message to the rest of the world just at the point when we are trying to position ourselves for post-Brexit trade, the message being that you might sign a contract with a UK company for the supply of some sort of technology only to find that the UK government comes and sabotages the contract years after the deal was signed and even after some or all of the deliveries have been made.

      If there are contracts still under negotiation, e.g. next generation upgrades or agreements to host ground stations then it seems entirely reasonable, in the face of unreasonableness from the other party, to cease negotiation on those but for agreements already signed the strength of the UK’s legal system and its rule of law is one of our biggest global selling points and to tarnish that for this one issue would be a bad move.

  10. I have generally been a fence sitter on Brexit not having seen any convincing arguments either side of the debate. Europe as a loose federation has done much that is good for its members but the Europe of federal creep and an increasing autocracy has crossed many red lines. Barnier’s never ending spite and aggresion has almost tipped me to the Brexit side. On subject, it is wonderful to see plans such as the above and Tempest-Britain has NEVER lacked technical brilliance. What has held us back in the past has been a lack of confidence in or ability to market and sell combined with Government interference hesitancy and timidity. So a British renaissance has nothing to do with Colonel Blimp but more with a revival of self belief in a Nation that,dare I say holds the most talented humans on the planet

    • Careful geoff. You’ll be accused of being a “Little Englander” by some on here for saying that.

      Good on you.

        • Nah! Stuff em I say! We need more people to be confident and believe in their nation.

          The way some a speaking on the TV, papers and social media you’d think the UK was a wee tiny of nation of nobodies that has never been involved in global maritime trade for hundreds of years and cannot make a sandwich, or have the ingredients to put in one!

        • (Chris H) Geoff – You perfectly explained why I, as a 28 year old, voted ‘Remain’ in 1975 for the ‘looser’ trade based EEC where we had a good relationship with 11 other similar nation states. You also mentioned why I have fought against the ‘political union’ the EU has been foisting on us inch by unnoticed inch for 20+ years.

          And why, in only our 2nd referendum on this, I voted ‘Leave’ 41 years after I voted ‘remain’.

    • Well said. I predict some of the ‘Europeans’ will only be too happy join us in collaborative projects post Brexit.

    • Oh, come now geoff. Besides Newton, Darwin, Shakespeare, Churchill, Nelson, Turing, Babbage, Maxwell, Boole, Rutherford, Haldane, Bacon( Roger and Francis), Dalton, Davy, Dirac, Halley, Faraday, Hawking, Heaviside, Higgs, Wilkins, Wilson, ………………………………….., and Smith and Jones, just how many brilliant Britons have there been?

  11. Well the Americans have to keep on updating their GPS , so why not ask them if the UK could have a small stake in the next generation? The US has budget issues too, so they may want to spread the burden.
    Or, plan B, see if their are other friendly, non EU nations we could partner with. Australia, Canada, Japan, Israel, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, all come to mind.

  12. Tom Jones – sorry not a great article – agree it is a very London centric pessimistic view.

    One note particularly – GPS and DGPS signals are sold to the market and this market is increasing. So the OPEX and potentially some of the CAPEX can be recovered by selling the signal to commercial users.

  13. One issue with hypothetical system is wil the treasury be expecting two the MOD to foot the Budget. If not I am all for it. We might also consider using micro satellites for it and launch them from our own dedicated launch facility in northern Scotland.

    As to keeping source code etc from EU this should be a last resort if the EU try’s to blockade the UK in any way.

  14. All the negativity towards the EU makes me laugh. Think about it guys, who voted for the UK to leave the EU, was it restEU or the UK? It was us obviously and now we have to accept the consequences of that. We voted, for better or worse, to leave the custom and free trade union and so we can not now have all the benefits of being a member without the downsides, that is just not how the world works and was realistically never possible, however much the leave campaign seemed to make it look.

    We are in a trade negotiation which involves the worlds 2nd most powerful economy (the EU combined is 2nd even without the UK) vs the 5th, 26 nations vs 1. Each side is trying to get what is best for them and our hand is just smaller than theirs and so whatever deal we end up with is going to favor them more than us, I just hope that this doesn’t mean an overall bad deal for us, which i don’t think will.

    When people say the EU is being spiteful and should give a free trade deal, its the same as someone deciding to leave a work lottery sweep stake, because they think they can do better entering alone, but then saying they still want the winnings from the work one because they work there and have paid in the past, clearly that person would be laughed at.

    On the topic, should we invest in a British sat nav system, yes of course, but it is not a current priority for defence spending, the money is needed more urgently else where and the US system has suited us to date.

    • Steve-I understand much of what you say but my analogy would be I leave my Sports Club-my fellow Members wish me well for the future. I no longer enjoy the benefits of Membership but if I like I can remain as a Social member or be signed in as a guest. My former associates don’t hate me nor do I have any bad feeling towards them. My beef is with Barnier and Associates. They have over the last 2 years been consistently aggresive, obstructive, rude and acting in bad faith. The UK has bent over backward to be accomodating, offering a huge divorce settlement, several good suggestions as to a future(vital for both parties) close relationship and constantly emphasised that we wish to remain Europeans and work closely together. Lesser trading partners have had much easier passages. The overwhelming view from anyone objective observer would be that revenge is their primary motive to the detriment of all.
      Sorry UKDJ-have strayed off subject. Thanks for indulging me

      • (Chris H) geoff – Excellent and concise response. And no its right on topic because the article itself makes the link between the EU, this satellite project and our leaving the EU.

    • You have a point but that is not the whole picture. Canada which was never part of the EU has managed to do a very good free trade deal with them but it seems they do not want to give us the same sort of deal despite us already abiding by EU laws and regulations…

      There are valid solutions to the Irish Border but the EU is rejecting them all.

      I voted to remain but I still can’t applaud the way the EU is conducting itself right now. If they had been less focused on expansion and power grabbing and if it was more transparent and with less crazy vetoes/rebates/subsidies and 100% agreement votes then we would never have voted to leave in the first place. I mean this is an organisation that despite almost every country wanting to ditch the costly, disruptive and ludicrous moves to Strasbourg are still doing it because France disagrees… It is a organisation that has many strange solutions in order to keep everyone happy (Our veto was dumb but was in place because the farm subsidies were even more dumb).

      I want to be in the EU but the EU I want to be in is not the one we currently have…

    • (Chris H) Steve – I respect anyone who is of your opinion about the EU although I fundamentally disagree. So I always ask people of the opinion we are an insignificant player in all this some maybe rhetorical questions:
      * Who has the £100 Bn a year trade surplus with the UK? – The EU.
      * Who will it hurt most if we reverse the EU’s External tariffs back onto them? – The EU.
      * Which country is lumbered with having to charge that EU External Tariff against countries outside the EU and with whom we could have tariff free trade? – The UK.
      * Which country imports 800,000 EU made cars a year? – The UK.
      * Who desperately needs our £37 Bn funding right now? – The EU

      We do not, as you imply, wish to remain IN the Single Market or Customs Union at all. We wish to leave them and have said so. We do however wish to trade in a Tariff free arrangement WITH them. Sort of like Canada and Japan have been invited by the EU so to do. Its a key difference so your ‘works lottery’ analogy is wide of the mark. The EU decided the day after our vote that they must hammer the UK, make life as difficult and damaging as possible to a) ‘preserve the rules of the Single Market’, b) to teach us a lesson and c) to deter others from leaving. Crass inward protectionism at its worst

      • I just want the opportunity to buy South African built RHD German cars at that the same prices the Japanese and Australians do……. 🙂

        (I don’t really want a German car, but you get the point.)

      • Have you actually looked at the real numbers and how reliant the EU really is on the UK Vs the other way around. The UK has a huge 70 billion trade deficit with the EU (we buy in more than we sell and a non free trade deal will mean more tax on that’s assuming we can’t move our trade else where, which currently looks unlikely, with no nation appearing to want an improved deal with us currently), with this being heavily balanced by services which we have a surplus but a lot of that will move. If a proportion of the banking moves, then this will reverse. The EU is playing this exactly right for them and considering we voted to leave why shouldn’t they. This isn’t them trying to punish us, it’s them trying to get the best deal for themselves, as happens in every trade negotiations

        The important part is we get a deal and that it’s no worse than other non EU countries, if we get that then we succeeded.

        The funny thing is that uk was part of the galieo setup and didn’t object to non EU members not having access, which we could have done but suited us not to at the time, but now we are paying the price for it.

        • (Chris H) Steve – I notice you haven’t answered any of my questions. Remainers never do. And you take the nett trade deficit ignoring the simple fact ‘Services’ are not dutiable. Did you know there isn’t a ‘Single Market’ in Services yet? The EU can’t stitch it together to suit the Germans. You also, as all Remainers do, project ‘Services’ as just Finance. It isn’t, the service industries include:
          * The retail sector
          * The financial sector
          * The public sector
          * business administration
          * Cultural activities
          * The Motor trade
          * Transport & Warehousing
          Financial services account for about 20% of this and most will remain in the UK because London is a global trading base with unique capabilities. Euro trading will move but given the quarter on quarter growth of 0.5% those jobs will be replaced in weeks.

          I simply cannot understand why some people think the sun revolves around the EU and there is nothing else. The EU represents some 45% of our total exports and we export more under WTO Rules to the rest of the world. The EU is not our biggest market because the EU itself buys nothing – its the individual countries. Basically just 6 of them. And when did anyone say we will just stop trading with the EU post Brexit? No one.

          Please also explain why the whole of the UK in all parts of its activities is controlled by EU legislation and Directives when only 8% of our industries export there? Will Canada have to follow ECJ rulings? Will Japan have to allow Free Movement? Why do we have to destroy wonderful 150 year old bridges built by Brunel in the West Country to make them comply with EU clearances for trains that will never fit on the UK railway? Google ‘PRM – TSI’ and learn what really happens. All because we sell widgets to Denmrk or cars to Germany? It is a total nonsense.

          Yes we voted to leave but the EU has only itself to blame. The same arrogance and dismissive attitude Barnier is now showing was shown to Cameron when he wanted some simple reforms. But the EU doesn’t do ‘reform’ it does ‘more of the same’ so he got nothing and we said ‘Bye Bye’. And what is wrong with wondering why an ex-member state, the EU’s biggest market and right on its doorstep cannot have a free trade deal when two countries thousands of miles away can? Answer that one Steve.

  15. Surely the simple solution is to tell the EU that if we cant access their GPS they cant use UK territory to run it from, my understanding, perhaps wrongly, is that Galileo requires UK territories to operate. If we deny them the ascension Islands, Falklands and Gib, does their super duper GPS system still function ?

    Whilst it does feel like the EU wants to subjugate us, it is just a negotiation after all. We will have to wait and see what happens at the end, but my guess is we will see the EU cave in on a great many issues once the deadline draws nearer. With that said they didn’t cave in on Greece, so who knows. I don’t think the EU will last another 20 years in its current form. Far too much entrenched anger from the general populations towards it. Especially the southern countries that have had a really bad deal under EU ( sorry German) financial stewardship. Italy now threating to withhold payments ( unlikely) and veto the budget ( very likely)

    I voted to leave, but I’m not naïve enough to think it isn’t going to do us some damage along the way. No deal will result in disruption, extra cost and lost jobs in the short to medium term. Longer term I’m confident we will be ok with no deal.

  16. I have a friend who has been involved in the program and is now research the feasibility of a purely UK version. He has said 60% of the GPS tech has been designed and developed in this country. More importantly through the encryption was also designed in this country. So to the feasibility of designing and building our own GPS system, yes we have already designed and built most of the system anyway.
    I can’t see how Barnier is make such a big deal of this. One, they need us to ensure the satellites are correctly positioned and tracked by using our overseas territories. We own the intellectual property rights to the encryption used for public regulatory service and if we wanted to we could publish this in the public domain. I really can’t fathom how the EU and Barnier are trying to leverage this against us! So if their’re going to be so childish about it, then crew them, let’s cut the strings and build our own system. It will cost them millions to develop new encryption not withstanding the delays incurred if fielding it.

    • “So to the feasibility of designing and building our own GPS system, yes we have already designed and built most of the system anyway.”

      And in these sorts of high tech projects when you design and build something you not only create the end product but you also tend to learn, in building the first version, how in retrospect you would have done some things differently to make the end product some or all of – better, cheaper, more efficient or more elegant if you were able to do it all again. If this UK project were to go ahead we would get that opportunity to do it all again and implement the lessons learned during the first design cycle. On top of that the basic computing, transducer, power and other hardware technologies going up in the UK satellites would be some years more advanced than the equivalents in the Galileo satellites (and the US ones for that matter).

      #BestGPSEver 🙂

  17. Can we try not dropping our heads in servitude to the EU all the time? It’s their choice and if they want to be d*cks about it let them. We should instead turn the entire issue around and make it a fantastic educational opportunity for Brussels. We’ll use Galileo to begin the process of teaching the Commission the life lesson that bad actions have bad consequences.
    1.Recover the cost we’ve put into Galileo from any payment we’re making to the EU as a result of Brexit.
    2. Find another bilateral partner such as Australia, Canada or Japan who might be interested in joining a GPS programme. Share costs.
    3. Use cheap launch providers such as SpaceX to deploy your network of satellites.
    4. Use our cheaper GPS system (because it will be cheaper since you haven’t had to bitch with multiple other countries over workshare and haven’t had to launch using expensive Ariane rockets) to sell services to 3rd parties and in doing so undercut Galileo.
    On a side note it is worth being aware that we are at the start of a new revolution in rocket technology. The cost of getting things into orbit is dropping dramatically. If SpaceX deliver on BFR we could see launch costs as low as $11 million dollars with payloads as high 150 tons. You’d get quote few satellites into orbit on a single BFR. By using a low cost launch provider you could make this system dramatically cheaper than Galileo

  18. (Chris H) So given we can build satellites as well as anyone, we have the encryption capabilities and we have the track and control sites all round the world (thank you Empire) the only unknown is launch capabilities within the UK. The Government has identified different sites for different methodologies and has already had people like Virgin express keen interest.

    SpaceX are a private commercial company and they will go wherever they can make money. If we offered them an exclusive launch deal based in Scotland (for example) as long as the rockets are built, recovered and refurbished here they would bite our hands off. Why traipse off to Guyana to pay loads of cash to an organisation that is giving us the middle finger and a Gallic shrug? Russian rockets? No thanks. And I think we do enough with the USA for little in return (politically speaking). So the UK Government are dead right to create all this within the UK. A new age and a new industry demands new thinking.

        • Such a plane is being built here right now by Reaction Engines Limited.

          One of the reasons I voted out was to ensure (or at least frustrate in some way) the EU purloining the tech as they did with our rocket programme back in the 60s and 70s.

          We are one of the leaders in satellite technology. And we will soon be able to launch them to in a very economic fashion. REL don’t want government interference but why the great and the good of the country aren’t throwing money at the company I don’t know. Rather buy property and avoid tax I think…..

      • David Taylor, We definitely want Skylon invested in and supported too, and under no circumstances whatsoever sold to a foreign company like they are obsessed with doing with practically everything, and no other country does to anywhere near the same extent by the way.

        Skylon will be a great product for Britain to showcase to the World in this high-tech industry of the future. We definitely want this invested in, supported and kept in British hands for once.

        • The rocket engine used for Skylon is called Sabre, and it’s been a joint Anglo-American project since 2015.

          Reaction engines has set up an American subsidiary working with DARPA in Colorado to develop it further.

          Hate to be the bearer of bad news but Skylon won’t be 100% British.

          Sorry mate.

    • We are not giving Spacex, a foreign company, exclusive launch rights in a British spaceport. Too right they’d take our hand off! We do that with practically every industry, let’s for once invest in, and support one of our own. Other countries with a space program use it to design and build their own rockets, Britain should use this golden opportunity to do the same.

      I believe there is a British company called Orbex who are designing a British rocket called Prime, we should make maximum use of that. I don’t mind launching foreign rockets as well as British, but we certainly are not giving them exclusive rights. We should use Prime as a test bed and go on to design and build bigger and better things. This is a high tech industry of the future let us invest in, and support a British company in at least this field.

      • I worry about Orbex and what terms they have with the EU. They have been awarded EU funding recently for I believe the design of a fuel tank, how does this work with Brexit? I’m hoping all designs etc remain proprietary and the UK Gov can just take over any future funding, hope however is the first step on the road to disappointment.

        If they can get this off the ground (excuse the pun) it seems perfect for our launch needs, with production and assembly in the UK, we won’t need SpaceX. However, a limited time contract whilst we develop our own launch capability would not be unwelcome.

      • (Chris H) – Stephen – The rocket sector is a pretty mature market now so why re-invent that wheel? The real money and market is in the payloads themselves. Which is where we already lead so the further investment like that announced by HMG will create bigger returns than building a rocket. I don’t mind who owns the company as long as its built here.

        As for “Other countries with a space program use it to design and build their own rockets” actually no they didn’t. Every space programme started life thanks to ever more advanced ICBM missiles. In other words the destruction of people came before the ability to go into space. We were in the game with ‘Black Arrow’, Black Knight’ and ‘Blue Streak’. Yes we had rockets and we didn’t use ex Nazi war criminals like the USA did to do it either. And we had launch sites on the Isle of wight and in Cumbria 50 years ago. All British from the worlds leading aerospace industry in the ’50s and ’60s. Guess where Europe’s launch system (ELDO) came from…..?? This may surprise you:

        • So our satellite makers are foreign, our rocket makers will be foreign, our power generation is foreign, our car industry is foreign, our train-making industry is foreign, our steel industry is foreign, etc., etc., etc. It’s like someone has went up and down the list and made 110% sure practically everything is owned by foreigners in Britain. Other countries have not done this to anything like this insane, perverted level. Japan’s satellite making companies are not owned by foreigners, let alone that and all the other stuff I mention. Same with China, same with India, same with Russia, same with Korea, same with Israel, etc. All of these countries own their own satellite making companies and make sure they have companies from their own countries designing and building their space rockets and it does their country’s prestige a lot of good on the World stage.

          You say the real money is in the payloads yet the companies in Britain that make them are, as always in Britain, owned by foreigners. Once again Britain’s hard work and genius is used exclusively to make money for foreigners, almost as if someone is deliberately making sure this always happens. If it were some things then fair enough, but not practically everything.

          “We were in the game”, we “were” in so many other games too, now we are in practically none. It is not good enough that we “were” in this game decades ago, we need to re-establish ourselves in this game in the here and now, this is the perfect opportunity and must not be wasted.

          For once, let us in Britain support and invest in British industry. Space is a high-tech industry of the future, the government definitely needs to invest in and support British companies in this field. Keep Orbex in British hands, the same as practically all other countries do with their space rocket companies, and Britain can have an industry in this high tech field which in turn will do Britain’s battered, abused prestige a lot of good in front of the eyes of the World. After Prime move onto bigger and better things, and make sure this industry is supported and invested in like other countries do with their space industry in the decades ahead.

          • **breaking news**

            British company Whitbread has just sold costa coffee to Coca Cola for £3bn.

            Our coffee is now “foreign”


  19. “To spend the cost of a relatively sizeable naval surface fleet simply to spite our former partners in Europe seems to be rather counter to the British way of space.”

    Typical bottom-aboutface remark from a Remainer. They are not now nor ever were ‘our partners’. We are not being spiteful. We are being spited.

    I see we have found more money for foreign aid.

  20. I happen to agree with most of the comments on here, I personally didn’t think leaving was a good idea but once the decision was made we should have made it 100% clear to the EU we were leaving and used the year from the vote to triggering article 50 to put in place everything needed to walk away. Then we would have been in a strong position to negotiate, telling the EU we’re ready to go what are YOU going to do about it. Anyone who has negotiated a deal of any sorts knows you start with a strong fall back position. The EU did have an opportunity to charm the British public and offer concessions before the referendum, but in their arrogance they didn’t offer enough and therefore need to shoulder some blame for the UK leaving.

    Now on the subject of our own GPS, 100% we should be building our own capabilities but government (labour or tory) are at the mercy of the media and public. Engineering projects in general are secondary to money pits like the NHS, when the press show pictures of over crowded A&E wards then something gets cut. I don’t see the trend reversing and I really do worry that no government will be strong enough to say we really need to invest in our future and to do this we need to say no the money needs to go on developing UK capabilities and for the sake of future generations people need accept the status quo.

    • Hardball? I doubt T May could negotiate herself out of a cardboard box.

      She should have stamped down on the MPs that were working against her, the ones that were ultimately scared to be the one remembered for taking us out and so stood in the background rather than running for leadership, like Boris.

      From the outside looking in, it seems to me May would have been 4th or 5th choice or lower in a leadership battle, if Brexit wasn’t happening, instead the main candidates are avoiding stepping forward and are waiting to force her out once the deal has been done and to blame it all on her. I don’t get why she isn’t using this for her benefit, she could have forced their hands and united the party.

      Considering the UK government can’t agree on anything, i would be amazed if we got a hardball deal. I am worried we will end up leaving with a no deal at this rate.

      • I’m referring to our announcement that we are going it alone with an alternative to Galileo Steve. Investing in heavily in defence and holding onto the brexit handshake to fund it would most probably get us an even better deal!

  21. Morning all
    Do we need our own independent system? The EU believe they did and spent near on £10bn creating one, will it work – we will wait and see.
    The U.K. part of the endeavour however designed and produced most of the things the EU wish to bar is from, which is fine – it’s all covered by IPR at the end of the day so we shall see how that goes.
    It would be a far better idea to help the US upgrade and sustain their current GPS platform adding in a secure U.K. channel, if that is really required. We should also look to further invest in their MUOS constilation (narrowband secure worldwide communications) and make SkyNet a truely worldwide communications system.
    So the U.K. don’t want us involved in their Galileo project, that’s fine – remove £1.4bn from the divorce bill and invoke IPR.
    Do we need our own independent GPS constellation, probably not but the design and build knowledge that we have in such things shouldn’t be put to waste. A post mentioned the micro sat, don’t under estimate the advances in optical technology and the speed of advance – US says takes years to build and are up there for a while, launching a micro every 3 months with the latest optical technology available is a game changer, with sovereign secure micro sats the U.K. will have a unique capability to utilise and offer – only to those that want to be our friends and treat us fairly 🙂

  22. Some of the earlier comments calling remainers traitors or weak were pathetic to put it mildly. I voted to stay in the EU and l would do the same again. Still as much a proud Brit! as anyone else here.. We have to remember Britain benefited greatly after the very difficult decade of the 70’s and early 80’s when it comes to the economy and rebuilding it. Not all about the EU has been bad for this country. But now we are leaving the EU l fully respect that decision. We must have a good deal with the EU or leave completely without one. What we must not do is sign-up to a weak deal would be disastrous for this country’s future generations.


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