Having had its space companies barred by the European Commission from working on the EU Galileo navigation system after Brexit, the UK has decided to forge ahead with its own new satellite navigation system. In doing so, it was confirmed by Prime Minister Theresa May that the that the UK armed forces will no longer seek to use Galileo’s encrypted signals, and will use US GPS signals instead while the new British replacement is being built. While some doubt whether this UK navsat system is actually affordable, there was a further shock for the UK Space Industry when Sam Gyimah, the government minister in charge of space in his universities and science role, resigned. Gyimah was dissatisfied over the wording of the Brexit agreement itself which he described as “naïve”. He was also known to be angry at the European Commission’s negotiating intransigence over the Galileo issue.

While Sam Gyimah’s reputation was not helped by being promoted in the wave of positive discrimination for women and minorities after the MeToo protest and the Windrush scandal, the Oxford-educated former Goldman Sachs employee, was however rated as one of the brighter ministers in the current Conservative government.  A previous “remain supporter”, Gyimah himself has now expressed a desire for a second referendum to be held on the issue of Brexit.  Gyimah is the seventh UK government minister to have resigned over the Brexit deal. Gyimah’s replacement is yet to be announced.

Sam Gyimah Courtesy: UK Government

Comment by David Todd: Of course, it was the European Commission’s overall negotiating intransigence, albeit in acting on behalf of the EU’s nation states, which has led to the current Brexit deal with terms unlikely to be approved by the UK parliament. As it is, neither the “Brexiteers” nor the “Remainers” are satisfied with the terms of the current Brexit agreement and there is now a growing demand within the UK for a second referendum, with the choice being a straight one between a “Hard Brexit” and “Staying in”.  There is some logic for this given that those promoting Brexit previously promised a good and amicable departure deal from the EU – one which has not materialised.

So if there is a second referendum, who will win? Well time and the grim reaper has meant that two years on, the older generation, which mainly voted for Brexit last time, has had its original voter numbers diminished a bit. At the other end of the age scale, more of the younger voters, the majority of which are likely to vote to stay in the EU, might actually be enthused enough to get out and vote this time.

On the other hand, many voters were put off voting for Brexit last time by the Remainer side’s “Project Fear” prediction of immediate economic destruction following a vote to leave. In the end the threat was shown to be very much a “Paper Tiger” which failed to come true – at least last time.  As a result, despite Project Fear being restarted again, this time by the government side hoping to get the Brexit deal through, many more may be emboldened to vote for a hard Brexit this time around.

DT’s prediction: If another referendum is held, the choice will be finally settled – one way or another. It is all to play for. Nevertheless, this writer suspects that after another tight vote it will be a majority again in favour of Brexit as many will have been sickened by the bullying nature of the European Commission. After this, a much more mutually beneficial Brexit/trading deal will be done between the UK and the EU as it will be in the interest of both parties to do so – especially because the EU needs the £39 billion that the UK owes for its remaining EU debts. By the way, a signal of a good deal for the UK will be if the UK regains encrypted signal access and supplying rights to the Galileo constellation, a prospect the UK space industry and the British government would be much happier with than having to build its own expensive copy.  At the very least, the UK should be repaid the estimated €1.4 billion that it has invested in Galileo – a system it will now not use.