Just as aerospace engineers normally do their utmost to try to avoid unwanted “delamination” (the splitting of layers) in composite structures, perhaps so should leaders of political parties. For just such a delamination is now apparently underway in the UK’s official opposition, the Labour Party. This was mainly due to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to support a second referendum on Brexit. This, and Corbyn’s failure to stop apparent anti-semitism within the party, his pacifism in the face of terrorism and Russian belligerence, along with the Far-Left’s persecution of Labour’s more moderate MPs, has led to seven of his MPs formally leaving the party to become “The Independent Group” of MPs.
Update on 22 Feb 2019: The delamination of Labour continues as two other Labour MPs have now left the party – one has however decided not to join the Independent Group. In addition, three pro-remain Conservative Party MPs have left the Conservatives and they have decided to join the Independent Group. This time the delamination in the Conservative party was over their leader Prime Minister Theresa May and her apparent attempt to use up time in order to force a parliamentary choice between her deal with the EU and a “Hard Brexit”.
Update on 26 February 2018: Probably fearful about losing any more of his MPs, Jeremy Corbyn now says he is in favour of a second referendum. This is likely to offer more than a binary two set of options. See the recommendation below.
So what will this mean for space? Nothing directly – except to note that the UK space industry is, for the most part, wishing that Brexit was not happening, and would gladly have another referendum to give the UK a chance to stay in the European Union (EU).
While the Theresa May-led Conservative-minority UK Government (which has a technical majority via DUP support) has given no sign that it will allow another referendum, a majority of the MPs in UK Parliament could force the issue if the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn would follow this route with the support of the SNP and Lib Dems, along with “remainer MPs” within the Conservative Party.
However, Corbyn has so far resisted a second referendum fearful that this would be unpopular with some pro-Brexit Labour supporters, and this was the trigger for the start of the “delamination” of the Labour Party of which the majority are pro-Remain.
Comment by David Todd: There is a strong argument in favour of having a second Brexit referendum. This is because many pro-leaver voters originally did so under under the promise of a good exit deal which has since failed to materialise. Meanwhile, some of those who originally wanted to stay in the EU must have been dismayed by the European Commission’s bullying style towards the UK – the row about the Galileo navigation satellite constellation being just one example. This writer recommends a French-style two-stage second referendum vote could reduce the a choice of three or four options down to a run off between two finalists.
By the way, it only really makes sense to have a second referendum final choice of either a “Hard Brexit” allowing the UK the long term benefits of full economic and negotiating freedom (albeit with some initial pain), or “Fully Staying In”, with its benefits of having full continued access to EU markets, as well as to experienced EU personnel and EU funding for some industries (including the space sector).
Anything else is just a poor compromise and probably the worst of all possible worlds.
Post Script: Having previously predicted a second referendum with a narrow leave vote, the author of this piece has changed his mind slightly and now has a small bet that the result will be to remain in. Note that this does not necessarily mean that this is what he would vote for. Apart from the fact that grim reaper has already some previous Brexit leave voters who tend to be in the older generation, this writer also suspects that there will be an attempt to make sure that in any second referendum vote will be constructed in an undemocratic way so that “Hard Brexit” is not an option. In that case, and for the reasons argued above, “remain in” will be the logical, if a very unsatisfying, choice. And one which will mean that the bitter Brexit argument will continue to run and run.