Last week’s poll: the Galileo affair

What should be the UK’s response to being shut out of the secure systems of the Galileo satellite constellation?

The prospect of Brexit has presented myriad difficulties, including what to do about the UK’s imminent exclusion from the development of EU’s satellite navigation system, Galileo.


With EU members states ruling that the UK will not be able to be involved in the development of Galileo’s secure public regulated service (PRS), an encrypted military grade signal, once it is outside the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May last month pulled the plug on the UK’s involvement in the project.

In our most recent online poll on the topic, we asked readers what they thought should be done. Should we seek a refund of the £1.2 billion Britain has invested in the project? Should we take the cost on the chin and develop a sovereign navigation system of our own? Should we press the EU to reconsider this decision in the interests of the project? Or should we negotiate access to a system operated by one of our other allies?

The poll attracted a substantial response, with 829 readers having their say, and there was a very clear preferred response, with 50 per cent of voters arguing that the government should seek a refund.

The next largest response group (22 per cent) thought the UK should accept the loss and develop an alternative. 17 per cent of respondents selected none of the above, whilst the least popular option, on just 11 per cent, was the idea that we should negotiate shared use of another system.

The poll also attracted a high number of comments, many of which – unsurprisingly – focussed on the broader rights and wrongs of Brexit: with some seeing the Galileo situation as another example of why the UK should remain in the EU, whilst others, such as a commenter called Ekij, complained that it was a “spiteful” action by the EU and evidence of “why we are better off without them.”

The most vociferous arguments came from readers arguing that the UK should get some sort of refund, with a number suggesting that our investment in the project should be deducted from the final EU settlement bill. “If Brexit goes ahead, which I hope it does not, then we should not negotiate compensation, just deduct it from the amount that they say we owe” said Ivan Taylor.

Others argued that the UK should go its own way. “Aren’t the UK engineers the best satellite builders in the entire world? Who is actually making the hardware. We could pull out then charge them double for our superior engineered work?” said Michael.

This suggestion was promptly shot down by Michael Breslin who pointed out that a large portion of the UK’s world class space industry is actually owned by Airbus, which is of course headquartered in the EU.