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'We've bought the wrong satellites': UK tech gamble baffles experts (theguardian.com)
211 points by DanBC 13 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 279 comments

I can't help but hear "We've bought the wrong satellites" in Peter Sallis's voice:

"Woah! It's the wrong satellites Grommit, and they've gone wrong!"

Hah. I can't get Michael Caine's voice out of my head ...

"We've only gone and bought the wrong bloody satellites"

Our Government is a laughing stock ... It'll probably take a generation to recover from this mess.

> intended to mitigate the UK’s loss of access to the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system.

I thought Galileo was an open system? Quoting Wikipedia “ The EU's stance is that Galileo is a neutral technology, available to all countries and everyone.”

All the GNSS systems have a mixture of services intended for the general public and so keys are public - and systems for which the keys needed aren't public. Most of them (e.g. GPS) say the non-public keys are for the military, since the EU does not have a military it says these keys are for "Public regulated services" and highlights that Galileo is ostensibly 100% civilian.

The UK won't have access to PRS service from Galileo. It isn't entitled to equivalent access to GPS, and obviously not to GLONASS or Beidou. So rather than say "We're a small unimportant island so that's fine" our government feels it absolutely must have equivalent capability.

a) EU doesn't have a military. However there are active discussions driven by France to establish one and it is getting support e.g. Eastern European states who feel threatened by Russia.

b) EU does have a Common Security and Defence Policy under which it coordinates overseas operations e.g. Libya, Iraq using the military from the member states.

So Galileo is definitely a critical element of the future of the EU.

"a) EU doesn't have a military. However there are active discussions driven by France to establish one and it is getting support e.g. Eastern European states who feel threatened by Russia."

Please do establish it. This way you will be independent from the US and won't need American military bases on your territory. Russia feels threatened by the US-led NATO expansion towards its borders just as much as Eastern European states feel threatened by Russia.

Odd that Russia would feel threatened, considering they have been annexing territory rather than losing it for decades. Do they feel threatened that the US will try to stop them from aggressively seizing territory?

They always feel threatened, that’s the only way the country can be kept mostly together. Whether they’re actually threatened is debatable, but in those matters if you really know, you’re likely working for an intelligence agency.

I wonder how would you explain why the US always feels threatened. For example [0]:

"“Russia is the most significant threat just because they pose the only existential threat to the country right now. So we have to look at that from that perspective,” the commander of U.S. Strategic Command, or STRATCOM, Air Force Gen. John Hyten said during the Association of the United States Army’s Air and Missile Defense conference Wednesday."

[0] https://www.cnbc.com/2018/02/28/nuclear-commander-russia-is-...

If there are no threats then how can you argue to increase or even maintain our already massive military budget.

Have you considered that they took those steps because they felt threatened? NATO influence has been expanding eastwards for decades. Russia wouldn't have annexed Crimea unless they felt there was a real chance that Ukraine would host NATO bases and they would lose access to their Crimean naval base- which were absolutely real possibilities.

Russia is surrounded by NATO bases. I wonder how the US would react to Mexico hosting Russian troops and weapons...

> I wonder how the US would react to Mexico hosting Russian troops and weapons...

I imagine if they put missiles on cuba, some kind of crisis might happen.

Yeah the US might have to counter by making a strong statement and maybe put missiles in... eh, Turkey should do!

You got the sequence wrong, American missiles in Turkey were first.

Threatend by what? I cant recall NATO invading or annexing the territory of a sovreign nation. Russian on the other hand, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovkia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, Georgia to name but a few European nations that have felt Russias "non-threatening behaviour".

Nations voluntarily join NATO, because having seen Russian agression in neighboring states it makes them feel safer. If Russia doesnt like that maybe they should stop their aggressive behaviour.

"I cant recall NATO invading or annexing the territory of a sovreign nation."

Funny you can't recall NATO bombing and partitioning Serbia.

Funny you can't recall NATO members invading Iraq.

Funny you can't recall NATO members bombing Libya.

Funny you can't recall NATO members occupying parts of Syria.

And most likely you haven't even heard that supreme NATO commander in Europe ordered to attack Russian forces in Prishtina [0].

"Russian on the other hand, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovkia, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia"

if you've decided to talk about WW2 and its aftermath, don't forget that Germany and countries which joined its war against the USSR -- Italy, Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria, are all NATO members now. This invasion from the West cost the USSR 26 million lives.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wesley_Clark#Pristina_Internat...

Your point is valid, but the parent said "NATO" and you moved the goal posts to "any country that is a member of NATO". That's a bit disingenuous.


I disagree.

Firstly, I explicitly wrote 'NATO members' in all cases except Serbia, where it was NATO.

Secondly, the driving force behind NATO is the US and it's mostly the US who bombs or invade other countries and it's the US who puts its military bases in the new NATO members. NATO expansion de facto means the expansion of American military infrastructure.

Thirdly, NATO members feel that they are protected from the retaliation when they attack other countries individually. Do you think Turkey would've been that agressive, invading Syria, if it didn't know that NATO will protect it from a certain Syrian ally?

>I explicitly wrote 'NATO members'

You did. But you did it in a very snarky and condescending way that implied the parent commenter was an idiot.

Frankly, you sound a little too "wound up" to have a civilized discussion with. Even if you do have a couple semi-valid points.

Edit: You know what? I just glanced at your comment history. It's chock full of the same childishness. I'm going to disengage here.

>Frankly, you sound a little too "wound up" to have a civilized discussion with. Even if you do have a couple semi-valid points.

Very healthy reaction to russian propaganda. They usually act in a semi-valid points to slowly deliver 'lie-point' that have nothing to do with the reality. It's difficult to catch them with direct lie, but you see their signature in a mile after some experience. I went to look for the history of this guy just after reading one-line comment and sure enough I have found more examples of what I've suspected.

>It's chock full of the same childishness

Here I think, while it's indeed childishness, the threat of it not childish at all and I think underestimated. It's very dangerous propaganda weapon that proven to work well for Russian aggression for some time now. I wish people like you would take that into account and see threat for what it is.

"semi-valid points to slowly deliver 'lie-point' that have nothing to do with the reality"

You are welcome to provide counterpoints, that's how "civilized discussion" works.

Frankly, you sound a little too "wound up" to have a civilized discussion with. Even if you do have a couple semi-valid points. You know what? I just glanced at your comment history. It's chock full of the same childishness. I'm going to disengage here.

Are both of you using the same handbook of internet trolls?

It's puzzling that you've decided to write this after reading a measured and polite comment with what I think are reasonable arguments.

But, you see, there are very narrow technical explanations for all of those things. We're actually the good guys.

We would never drone-strike a general who we're not at war with, while on his way to a peace conference to help fix countries that we broke in the first place. That's not in our national character.

I don't know about you, but me personally, I'm on the team "don't invade me again please" and will support the efforts of whichever aligned country is helping prevent that. If it's the same country that's making a mess elsewhere, too bad.

At least people who disagree with the government don't get shot randomly here in Europe.

And obviously, aligned troops stationed somewhere can't make conflict more likely. The only thing it might do is create a conflict in a situation where you'd just lose otherwise. I'll take a conflict over occupation. Oh and get the fuck out of Ukraine already, will you?

"If it's the same country that's making a mess elsewhere, too bad."

This reminds me about Poland and Hungary taking part in dismemberment of Czechoslovakia. People there probably were saying something similar to 'too bad'.

"And obviously, aligned troops stationed somewhere can't make conflict more likely. "

The US was about to take a chance and start WW3 when the USSR was going to put nuclear missiles on Cuba as a countermeasure to the US putting missiles in Turkey.

"Oh and get the fuck out of Ukraine already, will you?"

I don't think that will happen.

Russia was okay with the newly independent Ukraine keeping stolen Crimea and with paying enormous rent for Russian fleet base there until the US 'midwifed' a coup that deposed a democratically elected president and the threat of NATO expansion into the Ukraine became imminent.

I think the 'color revolutions' freaked out a lot of authoritarian states - especially russia, since they were in Russia's backyard.

All Russia really wants to do is stay good old-fashioned Russia they're concerned that West is going to contribute to their culture and they don't want that "degeneracy" to happen. TV in Russia constantly runs commercials warning citizens about American liberalism making kids gay

We also have pet bears that play balalayka while we drink vodka.

Fortunately Russia can no longer afford to project power into the Western hemisphere any more (beyond token bomber flights and naval freedom of navigation exercises). They struggled just to sustain a tiny expeditionary force in Syria, and the logistics train was much shorter there than Mexico.

Decades is a pretty bold claim. It hasn’t yet been 3 decades since the USSR fully dissolved, and that was a bigger territorial loss from the Russian perspective than anything they’ve gained since.

There were active political discussions about bringing Ukraine and Georgia into NATO prior to Russia annexing Crimea; Vice President Biden also gave a few speeches on how Ukraine and Georgia had a right to determine their own political and military futures which was effectively code for “we want them in NATO” without coming right out and saying it. Right now neither country has full sovereign jurisdictional control over their territorial claims so bringing them into NATO is infeasible. No matter what else happens in Ukraine and Georgia from now until the foreseeable future, that’s a geopolitical win for the Russians.

It’s not infeasable full stop. Russia is tied together by a shoe string and Putin’s heartbeat. Ethnic cleansing is continuing in the federation. As long as that goes relatively unopposed ‘ethnic Russians’ will be loyal to Putin as terrible as that sounds.

"Ethnic cleansing is continuing in the federation."

That's a lie.

Perhaps, you are confusing Russia with Baltic states. Share of all ethnicities with exception of the titular nations has dramatically dropped in these countries since they gained independence [0], [1], [2].

Considering that Estonia was first to be declared Judenfrei [3] with the support of the titular nation, it is not at all surprising.

Nowadays NATO praises Latvian Forest Brothers (former Waffen SS members) as freedom fighters. [4]






How do you explain the ethnic cleansing happening in Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and a handful of of areas within Russia continued from ussr days?

"the ethnic cleansing happening in Georgia, Crimea, eastern Ukraine, and a handful of areas within Russia continued from ussr days"

South Ossetia isn't Russia. And neither it is Georgia. Despite locals in this republic being justly upset by Georgia attacking them, Russia certainly should've done more to restrain them when they were harassing their Georgian neighbors in the aftermath of the war.

"Crimea, eastern Ukraine"

What on Earth are you talking about? Crimean Tatars are doing better than ever with Russia resolving land issues in their favor.

"a handful of areas within Russia continued from ussr days"

What? That's BS.

>What on Earth are you talking about? Crimean Tatars are doing better than ever with Russia resolving land issues in their favor.

Just as someone having direct access to opinions of Crimean Tatars I can assure everyone that Crimean Tatars do not share his(gdy) view. They are politically prosecuted with false charges for terrorism.People disappear and they experience all kinds of state abuses. Sample of their protest: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tKUSWWLx1GU&t=23s

Therefore I consider his comment as nothing more than propaganda lie.

"I can assure everyone"

Yeah, 'Dude, just trust me'.

I'm pretty sure there are such Tatars, who are unhappy with Crimean authorities, just like there is a double digit percentage of Russians in Russia who are unhappy with Putin's rule.

However, all that you have mentioned does not support the insane accusation of 'ethnic cleansing' in any way. On the other hand, there are facts like the language of Crimean Tatars being one of three official languages in Crimea.[0]

The video that you've linked to, shows some Crimean Tatars protesting near Kremlin and saying that their relatives were falsely accused of being members of some islamist organization. And nothing more. They might even be right but it doesn't follow from the video.


> ... the insane accusation of 'ethnic cleansing'

> ... their relatives were falsely accused

> ... And nothing more.

No comments. This is how russian propaganda works. Then they usually try to shift attention:

> there are facts like the language of Crimean Tatars being one of three official languages in Crimea

The only TV station in Crimea in Tatar language was closed after occupation.(And he knew about it when he wrote about language)


I agree with other guy(mthoms) who tried "civilised discussion with gdy" Citation:"Frankly, you sound a little too "wound up" to have a civilised discussion with. Even if you do have a couple semi-valid points. You know what? I just glanced at your comment history. It's chock full of the same childishness. I'm going to disengage here."

I am sure gdy will continue like nothing happened.All russian propagandists do, because it's usually a paid job. They simply switch topic to spread more propaganda. They usually pretend to have 'civilised discussion' but it's a fake. They simply abuse it intentionally.


"All russian propagandists do, because it's usually a paid job."

Says an account created 8 months ago to an account created 8 years ago.

"No comments. "

The usual situation when lacking arguments. Perhaps, you should look up the word 'ethnic' in the dictionary.

"The only TV station in Crimea in Tatar language was closed after occupation.(And he knew about it when he wrote about language)"

As a matter of fact, I didn't. Thanks. The BBC article cites the political reasons though, not ethnic.

Putin is young by modern American Presidential standards, and I don’t see any of the spineless “contenders” running for President in the near term this election or the next doing anything to make Putin’s heart to so much as skip a beat.

I hope I’m wrong about that, but I don’t have faith.

"considering they have been annexing territory rather than losing it for decades"

That's a lie. The only territory Russia got is Crimea which was Russian until 1954.

There's also South Ossetia, which is even smaller than Crimea.

Two tiny chunks of land representing very important military positions. The USA is outraged, as Saudi Arabia bombs women and children in Yemen and nobody cares.

South Ossetia just like Abkhasia are recognized by Russia as independent countries.

Fair enough, but just as I don't buy the narrow technicalities from my own country..

I wanted to add the word 'technically', but recalled that in Abkhasia they have elected a candidate not supported by Moscow.

Which countries do you think the US has 'annexed'?

The US doesn't 'annex', we 'liberate' :)

I'd say that any location in a strategic mountain pass that was invaded by a great power who has interest in that mountain pass.. ok, there are technicalities about whether they're annexed or not. But they're clearly on a short leash.

An 'anti-moscow' candidate could be tolerated -- one who let foreign troops in would absolutely not be. I'm not passing any moral judgment, just calling the dynamics as I see them.

"An 'anti-moscow' candidate could be tolerated -- one who let foreign troops in would absolutely not be."

I tend to agree.

> Please do establish it. This way you will be independent from the US and won't need American military bases on your territory

Poles will be against (underlying reasons are outside of scope of this discussion) and US will exploit that.


> "We're a small unimportant island so that's fine"

5th or 6th biggest economy in the world, population of 70m+, nuclear weapons, globally influential in various different ways, in London has one of world's top cities and world's largest financial centre by some measures, has many world leading businesses, one of the world's most visited countries, so small and unimportant that some say the EU faces an existential crisis as a result of its departure...

Small yes but unimportant is certainly debatable - and it makes me sad that people try to run this country down, when the fact that thousands of migrants are willing to risk death to get here tells a very different story.

> some say the EU faces an existential crisis as a result of its departure...

Some britons say...

The EU doesnt need the departure of the UK to face an existential crisis, they faced their biggest test with the Pandemic and failed miserably.

The EU has now largely quelled the disease, mostly restored freedom of movement and is in the process of mobilizing financial support and reforming its institutions while the pandemic is only picking up steam in the Americas, the ME, Africa and India.

There was a lot that went wrong and the EU is as always excruciatingly slow and lacking solidarity, but compared to much of the rest of the world despite being hit early the situation has been managed well.

Support for brexit in the UK itself has now fallen to 35%, while almost 60% would support staying in the union. Similar rise in support is also visible on the continent with support for anti-EU populist parties pretty much in free fall, so I have no idea where this narrative is coming from.


The EU is a trading block with an affiliated currency (used outside and not in all member states) and affiliated human rights court (all member states are in it and so are some other states). It doesn’t have a health policy, AFAIK.

That said, if the EU did have a combined health policy, and the pandemic was a test of this policy, then the EU faired better than the UK. (As did Scotland, despite being part of the UK and not independent).

US states had to deploy the national guard to defend their supplies against federal troops

I assume the poster you're responding to (perhaps with some hyperbole) is thinking of the UK in the context of separate from the US, China, and the EU - in which case it is comparatively small, and while not unimportant, certainly less important.

I get where you are coming from. But to play devils advocate, a lot of us aspire to be less important on the world stage. There are lots of things I am proud about, but big power politics is not one of them. Nor does success in other areas require us to play those kind of games. We need to get over out inferiority complex. We are not exceptionally powerful or exceptionally week. We can have modest aspirations in one area whilst excelling in others.

An aspect it is ok to embrace is the culture. The UK is second only to Sweden in terms of global pop music influence.

What? Wiki says "Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture" [0]. I mean, Zara Larsson has got some catchy songs but that's the only Swede I can think of off the top of my head. Compared to the US and the UK whose got Michael Jackson and Madonna, known respectively as the "King and Queen of Pop", the Beatles and more.

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music#International_spread

How do you measure that? Much though Abba are great I'd put the UK ahead of Sweden on that scale


Given that social media often has the affect of an echo chamber I think that "a lot of us aspire to be less important" is hard to take as anything more than "some of my friends aspire".

You might feel that we have an "inferiority complex" but that's just your take on it. The UK is one of the world's leading military powers by most measurements.

The left wing meme that Britain should accept a smaller role in the world or that our economy is too small to mater does not chime with reality.

For the record I think that leaving the EU has made us weaker and more isolated.

I think my views are heavily influenced by the resurgence of nationalism. And I see that nationalism as being indicative of an inferiority complex in a lot of our world dealings. So that does colour my views on this kind of thing. But I would never presume to speak on behalf of others, or that my views have any wider applicability. And why should they? These are political views about the future of our country. There is no objective reality to chime with. A perception of our past has nothing to do with our future direction.

I absolutely agree that Britain has a serious economy and ability to project power. But that is not an objective reason to have a particular kind of foreign policy. Or to spend lots of money on reproducing a foreign military capability.

The "globally influential" and London being a top financial center will certainly decrease after Brexit. You'll see a lot of EU banking moving from London to Berlin or possibly Paris.

This fundamentally misunderstands why finance is there in the first place. It's not just about access to the euro zone, it's about hiding all that juicy money from [insert national/international authority]. The City is a weird place, not quite governed by the laws of the land as you think it might, and has repeatedly reinvented itself for over 1000 years to remain a pinnacle of 'success' in murky dealings. With that handy set of overseas dependencies to hide stuff in, The City will do just fine after Brexit.

Banking would move to Frankfurt in Germany, not Berlin.

After the recent wirecard fiasco Frankfurt is not going to very popular for that.

Why not, it's like saying after Facebooks privacy scandal silicon valley became less popular for other companies.

(Yes SV became less popular in recent year, but because of other reasons).

It was the regulators actions I was thinking of - going after FT Journalists etc.

Its about the credibility of the financial system.

Some of the senior people at BAFIN should have resigned by now

It’s going to Frankfurt and Amsterdam (plus a bit to Dublin)

... and Paris.

So the financial center is moving to... 4 places? I know nothing about banking, but that's generally not how centers work.

All of those cities are competing to replace London, how it shakes down in long term we will have to see yet.

Frankfurt has the draw as already established major centre, but Amsterdam, Dublin and Paris all got things going for them.

They said that the City would be finished if the UK didnt join the Euro, it never happened and the city actually became more powerful.

Recreating a global financial centre like the the City isnt a matter of just moving to another location in Europe. If it were that easy the Eurozone would have done it years ago.

London has the infrastructure, contacts, mentality, depth of knowledge and experience that the other capitals in the EU cant match. And why would they want to, the city is happy to do business with them. Why would the EU want to wreck a European financial centre that provides them with so many benefits?

Finance will move from London for the same reason that British Airways now claims that it's a Spanish company: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/nov/12/ba-spain-no... - laws can be a massive pain in the ass especially for something as highly regulated as banking or flying. It's way easier to bank within the same regulatory atmosphere than outside it. It may take some time thanks to the corona but it will happen.

I think Brexit is disastrous nonsense, but I wonder how much of this will happen. That was the prediction/hope for the Euro yet the majority of trading happened in London outside the Euro zone.

They will be outside the portability regime though, so some trading will of necessity be moving.


> so small and unimportant that some say the EU faces an existential crisis as a result of its departure

Eh, exactly who is facing existential crisis over UK leaving? No signs of any of that here on mainland.

From my reading of several articles, some have raised the question that Brexit will be a potential path-setter for other dissatisfied EU members (for whatever reason), but the general tone has been that it's unlikely.

So the EU probably isn't facing an existential crisis due to Brexit but it's significant enough to raise those questions.

The effect has been the opposite - Brexit single-handedly wiped the anti-European elements of most populist parties on the continent, in a similar way as the Greek crisis wiped most anti-Euro objections.

When power imbalances are revealed in such stark contrast, people tend to go with the bigger guy.

Did the Greek crisis wipe most anti-Euro objections? How? At least for me the Greek crisis tipped me over to the side that thinks the Euro was a colossal mistake. (I’m strong proponent of the EU, but the euro only works well for Germany).

Countries that were flirting with the idea of backtracking on the Euro, like Italy and (to a lesser degree) Spain, have effectively removed the item from their political agenda for the time being. It has become radioactive in electoral terms. Even the anti-EU (and Putin-backed) parties stopped mentioning it. People are scared shitless of ending up like Greece did in those fateful weeks, without functioning banks and with a bankrupt State. It’s better to have an expensive mortgage for a solid house, than living for free in a shack.

The Euro is not perfect but you cannot realistically have a strong EU in the long run without a common currency. More tweaking is absolutely necessary (and effectively happening, slowly and under the political cover of this or that crisis, by introducing more mechanisms to move more money out of Germany), but losing a common currency would be the end of the project.

You do know that a big part of EU isn’t in the Euro zone? The problem with the Euro is that countries can’t devalue their currency to become competitive after any bubble. So Greek, Spain etc. have to suffer much more than necessary. Not only Southern European countries that some argue had themselves to blame, but also countries like Finland. Germany who’s goods are cheaper on the global market is of course happy.

> You do know that a big part of EU isn’t in the Euro zone?

Technically they are all committed, one way or the other, to eventually join - the only exception being Denmark. It's also mandatory for any new member. In practice, Eurozone governments already set the overall economic policies for the block (since they command a large majority and have their own institutions, formal and informal), so staying out is effectively a substantial loss of power and influence. This process will likely speed up now that the largest "holdout" economy (the UK) has left.

> The problem with the Euro is that countries can’t devalue their currency

I know the current Euro structure is not balanced; the solution is not to abandon the project, but to compensate with improvements like shared debt, more transfers, and a reform of the ECB. Some of these are slowly slotting into place already.

The model for European development must be the US - where you would never argue for, say, North Dakota to switch to some Mud-Pizza currency to escape budgetary issues.

No, they aren't committed one way or another. Why do you believe so?

Thinking that the Eurozone governments is one block that votes as one and therefore get larger influence is also wrong. Often there's a larger division between north and south Europe than it is between Euro and non-Euro countries.

Yes, the Euro could work with much more transfers between the countries, including shared social security. But I have a hard time believing that German voters ever will vote for a government that allows their savings help paying Greek or Spanish social security. But maybe I am wrong there.

The US is such a crappy example right now. It was not long ago that their president suggested that the states that couldn't handle the economic hardship of the pandemic just simply declared bankruptcy.

Temporarily at least. A lot will depend on whether Britain makes a success of Brexit or not.

Brexit becoming a path-setting event encouraging other EU members would only happen if Great Britain gets a visibly good deal while EU makes a visibly lousy deal.

However, it would make absolutely no sense for the EU to make such a deal that benefits Great Britain more than EU. Leaving the EU must be seen to have its consequences; political, economical and otherwise.

The question to ask then is: is it reasonable to expect Great Britain to get a good deal?

The answer is no, a good deal won't happen. The EU will negotiate, but only to get more gains, they won't agree on anything that is even remotely bad for the EU. The EU doesn't need to accept just any deal for the sake of a deal.

And actually, to me it looks like the EU is content with a no deal as a starting point. If they get anything else, nice. If not, shrug.

My reading from the British newspapers and articles is that the pro-Brexit elements of the GB government have an almost cargo cult like belief in Great Britain carving out a fantastically awesome deal, somehow emerging as the sole victor from the process and taking down the EU in flames as they go. I don't see any way how this could happen unless the high leadership of EU were to somehow sell out the entire block in favor of British interests. It is simply not going to happen.

As for more speculative thoughts, I think the next big things in a post-Brexit Great Britain will be Scotland becoming independent and also perhaps joining the EU later down the line; the two Irelands probably end up doing something similar.

> Leaving the EU must be seen to have its consequences; political, economical and otherwise.

This is the reason why I despise politics, states and superstates, and am leaning to the anarchist side. No, it absolutely makes sense to make a deal that is good for both sides. These are people and their lives you're playing with. The EU 'sending a message' by fucking UK over with its political/economical might is a mafia move, straight out of Putin's playbook, and the EU told us it was different. I am very disappointed and probably won't trust the EU ever again (that's been ongoing since the Lisboa agreement, though).

(Am EU citizen)

Well, the EU tried pretty hard to negotiate a deal, but as you know the negotiations didn't really go anywhere.

The EU cannot force Great Britain to do a deal. That is not feasible.

And it is just absolutely unrealistic to even entertain the possibility that the EU would suddenly roll out the red carpet with fanfares for a nation which so clearly wants to leave the union.

It's the choice of Great Britain to do what they want, but the nation, through its leaders and its voting population have to accept the consequences of their actions. One cannot leave the EU and simultaneously get the benefits of being in the EU. That is not possible.

Consider: if the EU were to hand out the best trade deals and market accesses and free movement and whatnot to every nation wanting to exit the union (for whatever reason), the whole EU would be rendered meaningless and it would collapse. A divided Europe would be a weak one. It would probably end up in a war, most likely not from within, but because of actors using that exact playbook you are referring to.

Except of course if you are Norway or Switzerland or...

> whole EU would be rendered meaningless

No, the whole EU project would finally be true to its words, and I don't see freedom as meaningless.

> divided Europe

Well the EU should stop dividing it then - instead of supporting freedom of trade and movement and work, regardless of politics and ideology, as they told us, they do the exact opposite, using mafia practices to get their way.

I'm not sure I follow. What do Norway and Switzerland have to do with anything? Norway and Switzerland have never been a part of EU, so they have never left EU either. Their situation is in no way comparable to Great Britain, which was/is a member of the EU.

> freedom as meaningless

I'm not sure I understand this either. Is your argument that dismantling of EU leads to freedom? If so, in what way? What freedom do you not have now that EU has taken away from you?

> divided Europe

In what way does EU divide Europe? Claiming that EU does not support freedom of trade, movement and work is bizarre. Those are the principles at the core of the EU.

And of course a country has to, first and foremost, be a part of the EU to have access to EU rights, like free movement in the EU area and so on.

> Mafia practises

Care to give a concrete example of this? The continuous refusals by Great Britain to negotiate in a meaningful way (give some, get some) is not exactly "mafia practises" from the EU's side.

Furthermore, my experience is that many people don't seem to understand even the basics of what the EU is and what it does and has done and why it even exists. And they don't seem to want to find out either -- those people are content with suspect, often state-sponsored sources, feeding them easy but false narrative along with some meme pictures.

For example, according to polls, some Serbians believe that Russia and China have sent more aid to Serbia than EU. Ergo: EU bad, Russia/China good. But actually, the truth is that EU has sent by far the most amount of aid. China ranks in the 15th place and Russia even lower. EU had given 3.6 billion EUR in the past 18 years as pre-accession aid. But this is a fact which isn't given to you when you "Question More".

Also, earlier during the EU elections there was so much talk about "undemocratic process" and "undemocratic EU" with "behind the scenes scheming by Juncker" and whatever. I found it personally sad, since criticizing something without understanding even a small part of it is prejudice, nothing more. There was a lack of basic knowledge about how the EU institutions like the EU Parliament, EU Commission and EU Council relate to each other, and what was being voted, and how.

> Claiming that EU does not support freedom of trade, movement and work is bizarre. Those are the principles at the core of the EU.

> And of course a country has to, first and foremost, be a part of the EU to have access to EU rights, like free movement in the EU area and so on.

These two paragraphs sum it up nicely. You've fallen to the newspeak.

Back when we were joining the EU in 2004, freedom of trade was supposed to mean everywhere, thus also with Norway and Switzerland, the UsA, Russia, Australia etc. As you said, these coubtries have never been to the EU, so why do they have access to the EU market? How is "left" different from "never been in"? Because you're angry the state left? That's supposed to be fair (core EU value, right?) to the people (as in humans) of the UK?

No, it's not "newspeak" and there is nothing contradictory about those things.

This is a long reply, but please read on.

EU has absolutely never said that they somehow provide automatic free trade/movement agreements with a random country on the planet regardless of what terms EU gets in return. If that is what you think, then I think you have misunderstood what the EU is about.

The key point is this: EU as a block provides freedom of trade and movement etc. to countries WITHIN THE UNION. This happens "automatically" for union member countries. When Czech Republic (for example) joined in 2004, it enabled a person from Czech Republic to move to Portugal or work in Spain. And vice versa.

Countries outside of the union, like Norway, Switzerland, Canada, Japan etc. have to negotiate a trade deal with the European Union. This is a process of give and take and often takes several years to make it happen in a way which everyone is happy with.

So: the EU is the entity which agrees on free trade agreements (and other agreements) with nations outside of the EU. This is the reason why e.g. Norway and Switzerland have the good trade deals they now have -- they negotiated those deals with the EU. (Note that this is also beneficial for the union member countries since, as a bigger entity, EU can negotiate better deals)

Now, Great Britain had these benefits as a member of the EU. But due to whatever reasons, which I won't go into to, they left the EU. Therefore the status of Great Britain reverts to the default state, which is NO AGREEMENT of any kind with EU.

The contents of a new kind of agreement is what people have been trying to rehash out from the day 0.

This is why it is different. When Great Britain left, they reverted back to a "random country with no deal in place". The fact that Great Britain is geographically in Europe or was in the EU in the past means nothing now; the situation now is they are not a member of the EU AND they lack an agreement with the EU.

To summarize: Great Britain has no deal right now and has to negotiate a deal again.

For what it's worth, unfortunately Great Britain appears to be not very enthusiastic to truly negotiate. They seem to have an idea that the EU benefits are possible without being in the EU, but of course such a thing won't happen.

And that has nothing to do with EU principles of free movement and work or fairness to the people of UK and whatever, it has to do with the fact that now Great Britain is a country outside of the EU and will be handled like such.

How "left" is different from "never been in" is that it is no different; the difference is that e.g. Norway and Switzerland have long ago negotiated an agreement with the EU, which spells out how the EU and that particular nation play together. And Great Britain has no such agreement in place right now.

Hope this helps.

Answering to myself: the above was not entirely accurate; the no-deal has not yet happened, though it looks like that is what will happen.

Great Britain still has time until December 31 2020 to bang out a deal within the Article 50 (the withdrawal).

If and when a no-deal kicks in on December 31 2020, then Great Britain reverts to a "third country status". Since all EU nations must accept the new deal, it will be much more difficult for Great Britain to get a good deal since it will have to please all nations.

But, in any case, Great Britain must sit down and negotiate with EU if they want some kind of trade agreements.

You forgot so soon that the EU did not start this process? UK was given opportunities, they did not want them.

That does not matter. It is known from the T=0 that the EU will do everything to make the UK as bad deal as possible. They're boasting with it just like the GP, saying things like "leaving the EU must not go unpunished", "they must pay for leaving" etc.

Downvotes for stating the truth. Sad.

> And actually, to me it looks like the EU is content with a no deal as a starting point. If they get anything else, nice. If not, shrug.

Sure, the EU are so completely insouciant about the UK leaving that they didn't wage a several years long guerilla war to subvert British parliamentary democracy as a desperate rearguard action to get Britain to stay.

Oh wait

Not sure what you mean, care to give a summary of this guerrilla war?

I think people was more concerned about that three years ago before Brexit became the long embarrassing debacle it is now.

> population of 70m+,

I mean, this is a minor thing, but from what I can tell the UK had a population of ~63m in 2011 when last counted, and an estimated population of ~68m in 2020. Maybe you're referring to projections, which estimate that the figure will break the 70m barrier in about 10 years.

most of what you wrote applies to Switzerland, yet they didn't feel the need to launch their own global navigation service.

I believe Switzerland is a Galileo member: https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_13_...

Plus, millennia of mountain living have provided us with an unerring sense of direction anyway.

that was my point, sorry if I wasn't clear: Switzerland joined Galileo while being non-EU member, the UK could have done the same rather than launch their own system.

There might be a path dependency there. Switzerland was never an EU member, and negotiated to join a number of EU institutions as a special case. It's not clear that the EU was even prepared to offer a similar deal to a departing member.

Furthermore, the EU has become less and less enthusiastic about these kinds of arrangements, so even Switzerland is finding it harder to join individual deals.

Ugh, this is a tired meme.

FWIW I'm British and living in Sweden, so you can derive from that anything you like.

But from my perspective there has been a lot of narrative in my lifetime that tells me our country is quite important, but that narrative is definitely not supported by the facts.

the EU doesn't face an "existential crisis", the issue's that the EU face is:

1) Is the EU still big enough to challenge the US and Russia?

2) Why is euroscepticism on the rise? how can we combat false information when we have no budget for public relations?

3) How can we ensure that the exit of the UK doesn't end messy (messy leaving things unsure, unresolved or confusing)

w.r.t. Nuclear weapons and population size, 70M is paltry in comparison to most countries, so unless you're only comparing EU countries to the UK then you're mistaken that it's globally significant.

The fact is that we have disproportionate influence compared to our land/population size, and that is because historically we colonized a third of the planet, our wealth from that time is dwindling, we have smeared our influence with the rise of the right wing and the childish way we divorced ourselves from our closest allies.

Thousands of migrants enter the EU; the right wing media would have you believe that they almost all want to come to the UK, the fact is that /some/ want to come to the UK because they already speak English and learning another language is difficult in their situation, there are other reasons but this is by-in-large the most common one.

I don't really have a horse in this game, but "70M is paltry in comparison to most countries"?

70M puts the UK at the 21st most populous out of 235 countries. https://www.worldometers.info/world-population/population-by...

I understand what you're saying, what I intended was that our population size is not as impressive as some other countries which do not boast our influence, and therefore is not a useful predictor of influence as the parent implies.

I would not say that we have influence that is in proportion to our size. Would you?

I would argue we're probably in the top 10 influential countries list, if not top 5, we overwhelmingly got our way when we were in the EU so we had quite significant amounts of influence there too which gave us even more power on the world stage, certainly not '21st'.

Why is euroscepticism on the rise? how can we combat false information

If you think euroscepticism is purely because of false information then perhaps your analysis is not as objective as it might be. For example the Greeks and Italians have seen their economies devastated by an interest rate set to favour Germany. That’s factual.

You forgot at least a couple of big ones e.g. the indefensible calamity that is the destruction of millions of young people's life chances due to the Euro, the near-collapse of unity and immediate reversion to national self-interest in the face of a genuine disaster i.e. CV, persistent stagnation and lack of growth, gleeful destruction of the EU's natural environment in stark contrast to political virtue signalling, etc. etc.

This is liable to become a shit slinging fest I imagine, because I believe that while the EU does have issues it is not as bad as we make out and we blind ourselves to the issues we have at home.

How about we agree that the UK has done much worse than the EU regarding its governance?

(I mean we have: Grenfell, our homeless problem, our funding of NHS, our human rights violations, our de-regulated banking system, our selling of fishing rights to EU companies and then crying foul, our reliance on hand-outs for agriculture, our housing crisis fuelled by foreign "investment", our massive inequality between the north and the south, social mobility being stifled for generations due to Conservative cuts to the poorest areas such as Coventry, our national transport system that costs more than any other EU country and is less reliable- AND london focused for some reason, the house of lords, the russian collusion dossier that Boris will not release, the defence of Dominic Cummings breaking lock-down (I mean, rules for thee but not for me))

I will not begin to defend things like the euro because it's mainly in hindsight that it's a bad idea. But aside from a few very real mis-steps by the EU it's overwhelmingly more democratic, fair and has far /fewer/ issues than the UK Government does.

I sincerely believe we needed reforms at home before we looked to the EU.

In what way are EU's institutions remotely democratic? The only one that is actually elected is the EU parliament, which has little actual power and exists only as a (very expensive) fig leaf of democracy.

We can argue about how good a job the British government is doing but at least it is directly democratically accountable to the British public.

This is so profoundly stupid of an opinion that I am having difficulty engaging in it properly.

Are you aware of the House of Lords?

Did you know that the European Commission is elected by our representatives in the EU parliament?

Did you know that the speaker of the house in the UK will not have his seat contested? In fact he won’t serve his constituency at all and they will be left without an acting MP of any kind.

How democratic is that? Taxation without representation- from the House of Commons no less.

You can’t sit there with a straight face and tell me our representative democracy with an unelected (and sometimes hereditary) upper house of peers and enacted through monarchy is /more/ democratic than what is considered the most modern and fair functioning government the world has ever seen.

Just because you don’t bother to turn up to vote doesn’t mean it’s not democratic.


My take on it is this: The more layers removed an average voter is from an election, the more anti-democratic. Voting for MPs who vote for EU parliament representatives who vote for commission members is too far for me.

One effect of this: elites always vote for other elites. There have definitely been many MPs who come from a working-class background, but that is impossible in the EU because normal voters aren't able to put those people in power.

Basically, if I (or the other common man) do not have a direct vote on someone in power, then we are in an anti-democratic system.

How does that view jive with the fact that Farage is one of the first people elected to the EU parliament but his party has never held a seat in the UK despite having 12.5 of the vote.

A democratic system allows proportional representation of views, as it stood if you supported UKIP you were not represented at all in government.

(Not saying that I like UKIP. But it’s a failing of our democracy that is notable.)

Not to point out the obvious, but all of those cases of poor governance have been while the UK has been in the EU (and some Brexiteers would claim that's why we need to be free of it so we can govern things properly - not a claim I am making btw).

This is liable to become a shit slinging fest I imagine

Agree, so best not to make claims that have immediate counters from those on the other side of the debate.

Nobody is necessarily right or wrong here, each side has opinions and ideology.

Who is "we", in these sentences? It sounds like you mean the EU.

The EU has a massive public relations budget. Most estimates place it at over half a billion euros per year just on self-promotion, although the true figure can be much larger if you consider the money "donated" by member states for subsidies and projects, that are then rebranded as EU funding:


The EU spends significant time and effort on combating false information. The problem is that most of the information it tries to combat isn't actually false, so it ends up backfiring.

For example, this "myth busting" page:


The response to the so-called myth, "useless projects are funded with EU money" is some bland corporate-speak that says nothing:

"National and regional authorities in the EU countries select projects which they think meet their needs best in line with the strategies and priorities agreed with the Commission"

It's a response to stories like this one:


which revealed the EU spent money on:

• Weekly free trapeze lessons for people in Tanzania (nb: not in the EU)

• Courses on how to make art from plastic bags in Dar Es Salaam (also not in the EU)

• Nearly 200k EUR on EU self-promotion in Jamaica

• Half a million EUR to a Zimbabwean "culture fund" whose CEO was a staunch defender of Mugabe

etc. So the reason euroscepticism is on the rise isn't due to lack of money spent on propaganda, far from it. It's on the rise because the EU is extremely corrupt and its own attempts to defend itself are useless.

Where's the corresponding one mocking UK public and foreign policy spending? The "tax payers alliance" is one, murkily-funded, extremely partisan guy.

I think the more relevant point is not that political propaganda/ pork spending is automatically and inherently wasteful, but that the political value thereof is highly subjective and varies greatly based on locale.

The US career politicians have arrived at a basic understanding, where loads of widely distributed pork spending is the acceptable cost of doing politics their way. The EU is not quite to the point where naming every local post office and govt building requires (supra-)national political capital and cooperation to accomplish.

Please try to avoid attacking the messengers instead of debating the message. It's that kind of behaviour that led to Remain losing the referendum.

Where's the corresponding one mocking UK public and foreign policy spending

On the same website! The TPA exists to mock wasteful government spending and inefficiency regulation in the UK, that's its entire purpose. On their website right now there are only UK specific campaigns, like one to abolish the license fee, or this one on wasteful local government spending:


The "tax payers alliance" is one, murkily-funded, extremely partisan guy.

The TPA lists 21 people on its team page, it's not one guy.

At any rate, you didn't respond to the substance of my post. The EU wastes a lot of money on projects that don't help the people who pay for them. Its attempted defences of this practice are very weak. This sort of thing combined with shoot-the-messenger responses like yours create euroskepticism. That's the key point.

We were important before we left the EU.

I think London must secede from UK. I heard once somewhere that London is de-jure independent from the British crown by some prehistoric treaty.

A weird legal status where independence !== sovereignty.

I'm ignorant on the topic, but I'm really surprised the US wouldn't share that "equivalent access" to GPS with the UK?

Certainly seems like we'd be happy to sell such access to a close ally for less than the $600+ million investment referenced here...

The UK has gotten burned in the past on that; see the “Skybolt Crisis”.


Trump’s threats to leave NATO and hardball on Brexit trade deals likely leave “let’s rely on the US” a nonstarter.

> Trump’s threats to leave NATO

Yeah, it's crazy to expect other countries to pay the agreed upon amount to support the organization.

Aside from that, why does NATO need to exist? Europe can fight their own battles, they have enough money.

The "agreed upon amount" is due by 2024. So yes, it's crazy to threaten to pull out 6 years ahead of schedule while the main adversary is at war with Ukraine and targeting American soldiers in the Middle East. Source: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/12/03/three-charts-that-show-why-t...

This article [1] lays out the numbers.

> while the main adversary

How does this involve the US other than an antiquated alliance to stop the spread of the Soviet Union during the reconstruction period after WW2. That was 75 years ago, Europe can stand on it's own.

> war with Ukraine

I don't share that assessment. What happened was the democratically elected government was expelled by a paramilitary force, other portions of the Ukraine decided to not recognize the military coup, held elections to secede and join Russia. If you believe in democracy, those voting to secede and join Russia had the authority and justified reason to do so.

> targeting American soldiers in the Middle East

America seems to keep getting involved in all these fights. This doesn't really have much to do with NATO, though.

1: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/07/11/trumps-nato-criticism-is-val...

Your world view calls for the US being isolationist from it's main allies. NATO is a military alliance but has an economic underpinning that strongly advantages the US.

NATO is also about countering geopolitical adversaries, Russia is one of them. Russia paying Afghans to kill US soldiers anywhere in the world is part of the overall conflict.

Interestingly your isolationism doesn't extend to Russia. They can just invade countries by removing their patches from their uniforms. Ukraine wasn't occupied by paramilitary forces that just happened to have advanced military hardware, trained operatives and special forces that were regularly crossing the Russian border.

> Your world view calls for the US being isolationist from it's main allies

I'm all for free trade, but I'm against footing the bill for Europe's defense. You might not agree with this opinion, but it's a valid one. I should have a say where my tax money goes. I'd rather invest that money domestically than fighting the big bad wolf that perpetually pesters another continent. There's more non-Russian Europeans than there are Americans. Europe has the population and money required to fend for themselves at this point.

> Russia paying Afghans to kill US soldiers anywhere in the world is part of the overall conflict.

There's a handful of ways to solve this particular problem (if it's even a legitimate one, but for arguments sake, we'll say it is). We can destroy Russia, we can destroy Afghans, or we can not have US Soldiers places where they're likely to be targeted by these actors. I choose the 3rd option.

> Ukraine wasn't occupied by paramilitary forces that just happened to have advanced military hardware, trained operatives and special forces that were regularly crossing the Russian border.

What's interesting about this statement is it skips over the the first parts in a series of events. Importantly, the democratically elected government of the Ukraine was overthrown by military force (and, it just so happens, pro-Nato forces overthrew the goverment...). It also ignores the fact that the Ukraine's borders were drawn somewhat arbitrarily, and that the people in those areas have a right to self determination. NATO fired the first shot in the Ukraine and Russia elected to respond.

You're about free trade with no security guarantees? It doesn't work, trade blocks align where security guarantees are the best. Say goodbye to cheap labour, products, natural ressources and interest in the American dollar.

Complaining about US NATO spending when all the money goes to American defense contractors and the military budget keeps on rising is extremely peculiar. Europe benefiting from America subsidizing it's Red states is a positive externality.

Only Trump disputes Russian bounties, allies have been briefed as well and confirmed the intelligence.

You pivot from "paramilitary force" to admitting Russia "responded". Euromaidan wasn't a coup and the only sources I find are dubious Kremlin talking points disguised as "evidence". Though once again, you don't want the US in Afghanistan but Russia can invade Ukraine.

> You pivot from "paramilitary force" to admitting Russia "responded".

There was no pivot. I'm not sure if you kept up with the news at the time, but I followed the event quite closely when things were unfolding. I'm not sure how paramilitary forces storming the capital, the President fleeing the country, and the parliament voting in the "opposition" leaders that had previously met with John McCain and EU officials isn't a coup.

There was a lot of US-sponsored (and NATO sponsored) regime change during that era. Libya, Egypt, Syria (attempted), and the Ukraine.

> Complaining about US NATO spending when all the money goes to American defense contractors

I don't see how in any way this is an argument in defense of spending money on NATO. Decreasing military funding would be a net-positive for the US.

Oh please.

If you think that the vote in Crimea to join Russia was free and fair I have a bridge to sell you.

It‘s not paying into NATO; it‘s spending this percentage of its GDP on its own military.

The parent voiced no opinion on NATO or Trump. Just the verifiable fact that Trump has opened up leaving. We don't need this topic to turn into a US trump politics thread.

The US may already do this under the Five Eyes agreement.

But given how Trump has shaken alliances even countries like UK are realising the importance of being self-sufficient.

Especially as we are so degraded that we could probably not even make basic things like small arms Pistol / Rifle.

Given that USA as an ally isn't looking as solid as she used to be and post Brexit will German arms manufacturers be happy to sell to us - better make sure we don't piss of Canada then.

Given that the UK is the second largest global defence exporter in the world–and most definitely do produce pistols and rifles– I think they will be just fine. They ceased membership of the EU, not all international trade.

The UK doesn't produce military pistols and rifles in any meaningful numbers.

> better make sure we don't piss of Canada then

Diemaco was bought by Colt.

Ah we could be really fucked then - the Uk should never allowed it to be sold, back when Colt was owned by a British company then.

So Plan C some Chaps in sheds then, possibly with Ian from Forgotten weapons as a consultant.

Well Accuracy International started out as two men in a shed.

It would certainly be an odd world if we had US-backed nuclear missiles (for which we pay a huge amount) but not US GPS access.

The UK government operates its nuclear deterrent independent of control from the U.S.: they would not share control of that capability with any other country (regardless of current defence posture), just as the U.S. would not share the keys to the GPS kingdom with another country. Hence why we keep having to launch what is effectively the same damn system into space.

Command of the UK Trident force is independent from the USA. However control is more complicated ( as it involves political aspects ) and technically the USA has influence because the UK uses missiles drawn from the common maintenance pool in Georgia.

Commercially, its not clear that there's very much value in the PRS. A dual band E1/E5 receiver can pick up dual-frequency GAL, GPS, and BDS3 and do very well that way. If receivers like that take off, then the PRS looks like a boondoggle.

> The UK won't have access to PRS service from Galileo. It isn't entitled to equivalent access to GPS

Do you have a cite for GPS claim? I would have assumed that UK would have access to GPS military services as a member of NATO.

Militaries want to be independent and capable of waging wars on their own terms, not beholden to foreign powers. If the best they can do is piggyback on GPS, then it leaves them subservient to the US's military interests.

>>> The UK won't have access to PRS service from Galileo. It isn't entitled to equivalent access to GPS

>> Do you have a cite for GPS claim? I would have assumed that UK would have access to GPS military services as a member of NATO.

> Militaries want to be independent and capable of waging wars on their own terms, not beholden to foreign powers. If the best they can do is piggyback on GPS, then it leaves them subservient to the US's military interests.

Of course that's ideal, but it's not necessarily practical for any given country. The UK and the US are extremely close military allies, and the US is also very close to NATO. I'd be pretty surprised if the US actually blocked such allies from using the GPS military services, which is the GGP's claim.

Besides "access" to the PRS/ non-public keys, there are operational considerations as well. Which are generally more aligned with the reasons "redundant" GNSS systems were invested in by other countries(/EU), even though NAVSTAR GPS (US) has nominally free, worldwide civilian access, in addition to the open nature of Galileo mentioned by GP.

Because the civilian aspects of it has become so critically important and relied upon, we tend to forget that GNSS is primarily a military program/tool/weapon, which for NAVSTAR, is still under US Airforce custody and control.

We, as John Q Public, just aren't generally aware that military capabilities go far beyond a more precise location fix , since the other non-public considerations:

1)are highly technical "how the sausage gets made" decisions and details, including how the [geodetic] network adjustments are made, dictating things like leap seconds, the internal coordinate system's x,y,z origin point & orientation, and grid movement with relation to plate tectonics, etc),

2) are back-end, non public facing, or secondary capabilities (ie emergency beacon/ EPIRB monitoring, signals intelligence gathering, ballistic missile launch/ ordinance explosion/ nuclear blast detection, or measuring deviation the sat vehicles' orbital parameters [and atomic clock relativistic shifts, and suspected absolute gravity measurements] to develop a precise geoid model- for aiming icbms, modeling missile defense, and navigating and/or detecting nuclear submarines) or

3) are wartime capabilities that are turned off normally, but require "admin" access to implement, like selective availability (SA) type degradation/ spoofing, turning off civilian bands/signals (either locally or worldwide), controlling signal strength and anti-jamming capabilities, etc. This would also include things like controlling spare sat vehicles, and determining what areas get 100% coverage in the event of a less than 100% coverage sat network.

All of these aspects affect various military operations, and any country(/EU) that aspires to be a world superpower will not be able to rely on third parties to get all the military benefits of operating such a system.

Also worth mentioning that civilian NAVSTAR GPS recievers have both an altitude and speed limit imposed on them client-side, so (over simplifying things here) foreign parties looking for space or missile guidance based on GPS have always -theoretically- needed to re-engineer/re-invent a client receiver if they wanted such capability.

Somewhat ironically, or at least counterintuitively, the US military specifically avoids relying on GNSS for navigating ICBMs, smart-bombs, cruise missiles, or any other systems that must operate in contested airspace, specifically because they are aware both of how fragile the system can be (signal strength is already well below the noise levels), and how easy it is to purposefully turn off at will.

Consider that in the event of a major war, NAVSTAR GPS is more likely to be turned off over the US than over enemy territory, as we wouldn't want to help the enemy navigate or locate targets.

> dictating things like leap seconds

Leap seconds have nothing to do with GPS. They're an artefact caused by a desire to reconcile two things humans sort of intuitively assumed were tied together but aren't.

We set our day (24 hours, 86400 seconds) based on roughly how long the planet Earth takes to rotate. If it was a little slower or a little faster we could just have adjusted the second to fix that back in the 20th century. Not very palatable to modern physicists but it could have been done.

But it isn't just a little slower, or a little faster. It's both. Varying from one day to the next, unlike a good clock, the Earth doesn't keep time very well from one day to the next. This adds up over time. It might gain half a second one year, then lose 0.1 seconds the next year. One approach would be to decide we don't care. Clock just tick forward monotonically, the Earth is a little faster or slower, nobody needs to care.

Unfortunately astronomers care. They really want one calendar day to match one Earth rotation for their convenience.

And so now instead of the monitoring of the rotation being just something a handful of specialists care about, it drives the creation of "Leap seconds" to make up for our planet being slower or faster over a period of years by adjusting UTC by one second at notified intervals compared to the TAI.

>Unfortunately astronomers care

If astronomers care, then by definition, navigators care.

For instance, observing the overhead transit of a star and being off by a second translates to hundreds or thousands of yards in location, depending on latitude. FYI, ICBMs still use star positions as their primary means of navigation. But every datum and grid in the world is eventually traced back to, or translated via, positions originally defined by astronomic observations. There's a reason that the Prime Meridian is defined by the meridian that "happens" to pass through the observatory at Greenwich.

And while I get the point you're making, in the US, it's still legally up to the Navy to administer official time keeping, and they get to decide how all of the little non-uniform or non-predictable deviations and elements get dealt with in the real world. Including the deviations that result in leap seconds.

The fact that most people don't have to think about these things is due precisely to how well the military and scientific communities handle it.

> Somewhat ironically, or at least counterintuitively, the US military specifically avoids relying on GNSS for navigating ICBMs, smart-bombs, cruise missiles, or any other systems that must operate in contested airspace

The DoD has been purchasing GPS guided munitions for years because of the economics. They’re significantly cheaper than laser guidance kits and don’t require a persistent designation paint. The downside (besides jamming) is that they’re more subject to user error: I can recall at least one incident where users entered incorrect coordinates and essentially bombed themselves.

They use GPS, sure, otherwise what's the point of having it?

But they can't rely on it being available, especially during a major conflict. So most weapon delivery systems require different forms of navigation to be available, even if GPS is cheaper and preferred.

Galileo includes Public Regulated Service (PRS).

PRS has both military and civilian uses. Civilian uses include safety critical applications like autonomous cars, energy grids, air traffic, military and commercial drones, trains, some emergency services and so on. It's jamming resistant highly secure system that many commercial future systems depend on (even the open services in Galileo are spoof resistant).

Since UK will be closed out the development of PRS, UK thinks it's not going to serve their national interest to rely on EU.

Everyone can use it, but Galileo is also a program to fund and support EU companies.

British companies won't receive any orders for producing the satellites and other technology anymore.

So the Johnson government is looking for ways to generate orders for British companies, as well.

[edit: changed "their own" to British", because readers might misread it as "companies owned by government officials"]

>[edit: changed "their own" to British", because readers might misread it as "companies owned by government officials"]

Perhaps not owned by government officials, but Cummings' pals are certainly getting a lot of government contracts without proper tendering recently...

In brexitland it's not about common sense or reason. It's a self-isolationist, xenophobic, racist, bigoted, ideological stance. Does it mention EU or Europe? "It's bad, we can't use it, British empire better".

It's absolutely embarrassing living in this country sometimes.

I think this is so ironic given that a company in the UK manufactures the navigation payloads for the Galileo satellites


Whatever the incentives were, I actually prefer this choice to the alternatives.

This project (like Galileo) is about subsidizing the space sector first, and application is a distant 34th. I'd rather see the money flowing to people trying new stuff that to stablished companies building the same old systems.

Galileo had SST( a British company) building a lot of the components . OneWeb only has a official HQ in the U.K and is just an operator, I don't any development happens in the U.K and was largely done by Airbus.

Perhaps it can change in the future, however given OneWeb's uncertain future post their bankruptcy I am not sure this investment is the best way to promote the space sector.

I’m not saying it’s a good bet. I’m saying that if you are going to throw the money out the window anyway, throwing it at new stuff is a much more promising heuristic (even if in this particular case it’s a bad move)

I the UK really wanted blue sky thinking, why not open up a competition?

Biggest beneficiary from Galileo (during Britain's stain in the EU) was actually a small UK satellite company, Surrey Satellite Technology.

Well maybe if we had supported our local high tech businesses better the UK would be self sufficient and if Martlesham / Marconi had been better manged we would have our own 5g tech.

Marconi used to be a pretty impressive company - I used to know some people from the team that worked on nuclear power station simulators and they were all pretty smart! Unfortunately, it doesn't look like their senior management were quite so smart:


Here's a story from 2012 about how the Fore management recalls the history of the company, complete with words like "tech superstars" and "multibillion dollar success".


Well, you have to congratulate the management team at FORE - they even pointed out that ATM might be on the way out during the acquisition process and Marconi still bought them.

Got taken over by bean counters (accountants /MBA ) instead of engineers.

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy proves itself again.

Are the GEC/Marconi management out of work and destitute now?

I'm going to guess they got multimillion pay packets and that the personal cost to themselves was probably negative (ie they made money) but would be interested to hear otherwise.

"out of work and destitute"

Does being in the House of Lords for a while count?


I'd like to note that it is feasible to reuse current OneWeb satellite as ad-hoc GNSS, just the accuracy will be much worse than current service from Galileo or GPS

This is the point I'd really like to see some more detail on or discussion on from relevant experts. I'm sure you can build some kind of GNSS with the capabilities of OneWeb satellites, can you build something with similar capabilities to existing GNSS (GPS was original designed in the 70s so was designed with receivers with limited computational capability, with modern capabilities can you build a system that requires lots more satellites for a good fix, where those satellites don't need the same capabilities as a GPS satellite for instance)? If not do you need small tweaks to OneWeb's current platform or a total overhaul to build a GNSS?

I can well believe the UK government has been sold on a thing that can't work, but equally I can see reasons it may be possible to use OneWorld's existing platform for a GNSS service.

One of the biggest drivers of cost on GNSS satellites is the need for an extremely accurate clock. Position is calculated based on a series of ranges to the satellites with a "known" position. That range is calculated is based on a time-of-flight so you need a very accurate time source. The whole Galileo project cost is 10 billion [0] and this is "cheap" compared to the US GPS system. I can't find great numbers for it, but for the cost of building two new GPS satellites this year is $1.8 billion [1] and operating cost for the existing constellation I believe is on the order of 100s of millions. I know someone could probably do it for cheaper, but I guess my point is putting an atomic clock in space is expensive.

But I also wanted to come back to the cost of operations and "known" satellite position. Because if you need your GPS satellites to have good enough position and time knowledge you need something on the ground with a better than extremely accurate clock. See this picture of the backup clock arriving at the GPS operations center [2]

Edit: Also see my comment a couple comments down on my assessment of possible accuracy of the current one-web satellites to get an idea of accuracy.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galileo_(satellite_navigation)

[1] https://www.defense.gov/Newsroom/Releases/Release/Article/20...

[2] https://www.schriever.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/27...

Why is this the case? Is triangulating your position from LEO harder somehow? Or is it something like that satellites don't have accurate enough clocks? Or something else?

Navigation satellites carry atomic clocks, oneweb satellites do not.

Geostationary satellites have very well known position and use atomic clocks to ensure they are synchronized. So when you get a signal for 3 geostationary sats you can have both extreme precision in their position and in time delay between your and sat locations.

For LEO sats the sat position is more complicated and they don’t have atomic clocks to synchronize. Now, their position IS somewhat known and they do have clocks so they can work somewhat, just not as well (alternatively since there will be a ton of Leo sats maybe you can do statistical analysis to improve?)

You can't really use geostationary satellites for finding your position (problem akin to gimbal lock, you lose an entire degree of freedom so you don't know if you're north or south)

GNSS constellations do not use geostationary satellites.

> GNSS constellations do not use geostationary satellites.

This is not quite accurate. The main body of GNSS constellations are usually MEO cut in to several orbital planes, but GPS and Beidou, (Global systems) as well as QZSS and IRNSS (regional systems) all have GEO satellites broadcasting a NAV signal payload.

GNSS systems typically use MEO ~20,000 KM.

If you don’t care about error rates and want an approximate location it could be done. If one finds satisfying a device which would tell you that you’re in such and such neighborhood but not give you the exact location sure.. We’re in 2020, that would be like travelling back in time

These satellites don't have the on-board clock capability to do very high precision, high stability timing which is one foundational bedrock positional accuracy is based on.

Just as important though is that they don't have the world-wide network of ground tracking stations monitoring their orbit. The orbital positions and velocity need to be known to within a meter or so, and not only are these not being tracked at that level, which is a very expensive undertaking, but they are also in LEO which means their orbits are much more affected by atmosphere and are less stable.

Yes, on-board clock accuracy is the limiting factor here.

Perhaps something like NTP could be used to keep the clock accurately in sync to the precision required? I mean do you need the atomic clock to be onboard ? could there not some error correction with multiple satellites to handle skew problems ?

A light nanosecond is 0.3m (1ft), I know no more than you do about the tech, but it seems plausible that NTP isn't accurate enough.

well i didn't mean literally NTP itself, but a similar sync protocol and error correction, it may not be the best approach obviously or give best precision..just that it could made to work ?

Can an error be compensated by the number of satellites?

Theoretically, yes. But you are already limited by the position knowledge of the OneWeb satellites themselves. Currently they rely on on-board GPS receivers for their position knowledge which is quoted as 10m (1σ) [0]. Timing knowledge is quoted as 50 ns (1σ), so when calculating time-of-flight from the satellite this will add another 15m of error. So you won't be able to get better than that number, and it will likely be significantly worse than that and you could get errors up in to the 100m range.

With regular handlheld GPS receivers or smartphones you can usually get an accuracy of a couple of meters under open sky [1/2]. And if you get precision GPS receiver units which can use dual-band and differential GPS you can get down in to the centimeter accuracy range [3]. So there is a very big orders of magnitude difference with what you could do with the OneWeb satellites right now.

[0] https://onewebsatellites.com/arrow/

[1] https://activelivingresearch.org/positional-accuracy-six-por...

[2] https://www.gps.gov/systems/gps/performance/accuracy/

[3] https://r12.trimble.com/

This is an enormously detailed answer, thank you so much!

Not an expert by any means, but from my experience with physics experiments I would guess the error goes down as 1/sqrt(n). So more satellites help, but with diminishing returns.

Exactly correct, the rub is how much phase error (inaccuracy) are you willing to tolerate.

Now if you you had planned to include a localization option in the satellites, that would be an interesting thing.

Seems reasonable at first glance to me:

  1a. satellite company with products goes bust
  1b. Government wants different type of satellite but prohibitively expensive to pursue
  2. Govt speculates in 1a in order to reduce cost of 1b
What’s the smoking gun i missed?

Lack of tender process? Equity investment into already-bankrupt company? Not actually a manufacturer but operator? (the actual manufacturer appears to be Airbus: https://spaceflightnow.com/2015/06/15/oneweb-selects-airbus-... )

Track record of Brexit snap procurements that turned out to be total losses? e.g. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jul/10/brexit-ferr...

Ongoing Johnson/Desmond corruption allegations? Leave it a few weeks and someone will find which Tory party donor was tied to this firm.

You need a truck to move a container of freight across the country. You buy a skateboard, hoping that you can modify it to do the job.

There was never a actual will to develop a competitor to Galileo/GPS. This a political tactic for Brexit.

This is still for the show. This will die out at some point.

unless your expectation is that the EU is equally dumb than thats not a valid bargain tactic. they should probably poke the bear with russia and see if US will come to help. In any case UK will have to go to the US hat in hand with free trade agreements and UK thought EU was bad wait till they start playing with the US.

I'm not saying that it was a tactic to bargain with the EU. This was a domestic political tactic to sell Brexit and the UK's bright future outside of the EU to the British public.

If they make the investment, it is more than just show.

But I have my doubts about the end result of this endeavor as well.

This is essentially a PR-only government run by a disgraced racist former journalist who has no extended attention span, no useful real-life skills, and nothing but contempt for STEM culture - but also believes that he's intelligent enough to talk his way out of any situation.

Expecting anything other than wasted money and failure is an exercise in unrealistic optimism.

Ten years ago if you'd predicted that trump would be in the White House and Johnson would be in No 10, you would have been laughed at...

Nobody's laughing now because the reality isn't funny.

Governing and campaigning are very different things, though.

What is the difference in effort between ‘selling’ a $15k website or application versus writing, maintaining and deploying said application?

Why bother with delivering the application when you can just keep the $15k with no consequences?

It's a proposed investment in a bankrupt company, and apparently not the most suited one. We'll see...

Ugh, where do I start? The UK did not buy any satellites. They bought a stake in a satellite company. Actually, they didn't do that either, they submitted a bid to buy a stake in a satellite company. The bid will be reviewed, and after it's approved by the US, they may win it.

Once they have the stake, the satellite company, OneWeb, may build for the UK some satellites for a new global positioning system, or they may build some other satellite capabilities. If they go for the first one, they can build satellites at the same altitude as the ones they have placed in orbit so far (1200 km), or at a different altitude. If they place them at the 1200km altitude, it's not clear at all why this would be bad, except that some self-declared experts pointed out that the current GPS satellites are at a higher altitude.

> If they place them at the 1200km altitude, it's not clear at all why this would be bad, except that some self-declared experts pointed out that the current GPS satellites are at a higher altitude.

The main downside of this is that you typically need more satellites. If I recall, you need a minimum of 4 satellites to get a position, and more is beneficial. With modern atomic clocks and other trappings, that could get expensive.

Actually, modern atomic clocks should be less expensive, not more expensive than the ones produced 30 years ago that power the original GPS satellites. For example, chip-scale atomic clocks [1] can be had for about $1000 [2]. Here's a space rated such atomic clock [3]. I couldn't find the cost, but let's say it's one hundred times more expensive than a "civilian" version. It's still negligible even compared to the cost of putting the satellite in orbit only.

Speaking of which, this calculator [4] shows me that with the same rocket, going from an altitude of 1000km to 20000km cuts the cargo mass roughly in half.

And another difference between 20000km and 1000km is the fact that radio signals decay with the square of the distance. At 20000 km you need an antenna that's 400 times more powerful than at 1000km. That means you need correspondingly more solar panels and more radiators. Overall, the satellite will be many, many times heavier. For example the GPS satellite USA-132 currently in service has a mass of 2 tons [5]. If the lower orbit affords you a mass reduction not by a factor of 400, but only by a factor of 10, you end up with 200 kg. The current OneWeb satellites weigh about 150kg.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chip-scale_atomic_clock

[2] https://www.electronicdesign.com/technologies/analog/article...

[3] https://www.microsemi.com/product-directory/embedded-clocks-...

[4] https://www.satsig.net/orbit-research/delta-v-geo-injection-...

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USA-132

OK. But you're still not addressing the main problem.

LEO means you meed more satellites because they're closer to the earth.

If look at the proposed OneWeb satellites, they need 650 of them for their constellation. I'm sure there's some overlap there, but probably not a ton. With GPS, you need much more overlap - specifically, every part of the earth need to be able to get a signal from a minimum of 4 satellites.

So you might be looking at somewhere between 650 and 2600 satellites in LEO to run a GPS type system instead of 24 at the traditional orbit. I just don't see how that makes sense.

The number doesn’t seem to be a problem. Specifically, per wikipedia [1]:

“Despite the bankruptcy process in the end of May 2020, OneWeb filed an application to FCC for increasing the number of satellites to 48,000”

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OneWeb_satellite_constellation

> “Despite the bankruptcy process in the end of May 2020, OneWeb filed an application to FCC for increasing the number of satellites to 48,000”

It's pretty easy to see that this isn't a real plan; that is to say, if OneWeb weren't bankrupt, they could never accomplish this. The math is pretty simple.

If we assume that their satellites have a lifespan 2x as long as SpaceX (10 years) and they continue to launch on Soyuz (34 / launch), then they'd need

48000 / 10 / 34 = 141 launches per year for the life of the company.

I hope it's obvious to you that that simply would never happen. Even if OneWeb could afford to buy that many launches, it's doubtful that Russia could manufacture and launch them at that pace.

Even SpaceX (who is planning a similar sized constellation) can't launch their lower cost/kg F9 twice per month, and they have the benefit of reusing the 1st stage and fairing halves.

> The number doesn’t seem to be a problem.

The number matters if the UK cares about money.

You mentioned 2600 as the top range for the number of satellites needed for a GPS system. Let's use this number, shall we?

Second, OneWeb already has bought rights for 3 launches with Ariane 6 [1]; ArianeGroup is a joint venture of Airbus and some other company. Airbus was reported to be quite enthusiastic about the UK bid, so Soyuz is unlikely to be in the picture for long if UK wins the auction.

An Ariane 6 launch can bring between 10 and 22 tons to LEO. Let's take the middle number of 15 t, that would be 100 of their current satellites in one shot. That's in line with the 60 satellites per launch for Starlink (which are heavier at about 250kg).

They could maintain a fleet of 2600 satellites in orbit for less than 3 launches per year.

Did I mention that Airbus is the biggest OneWeb creditor? They have all the reasons to see OneWeb succeed, so I don't think they'll limit OneWeb's access to Arianne 6 launches. If anything, one could be worried about a conflict of interests, that they'll get more launches than one would strictly need.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariane_6#Launch_contracts_and_...

One Ars Technica comment tries to find the reasoning, postulating that this new proposal is designed to be complementary to GPS/GNSS rather than a replacement for it.


But that comment section is mostly pretty scathing.

"Classic Dom" as they say

Isn't it possible for the UK to re-join Galileo even when not in EU? I'd think Galileo would be happy to get additional (paying) members.

I guess it is optics not that Galileo will not want, paying may not go well with pro Brexit base.

Corruption or incompetence? Hard to tell at the moment.

Or both.

I mean, it's definitely corrupt, but it's hard to unstate the extent to which the current UK government is animated by the idea that everything is easy and you just need to think radically and differently.

As someone who favours radical and different thinking, I feel like screaming "But you also need to be _right_!".

The current lot remind me of every terrible tech-illiterate manager or client who uses phrases like "it's got to be easy..." or "you only have to...". Cummings is the worst case, the manager who has learned just enough to consider himself an expert but not enough to realize how out of his depth he really is.

They have a track record of not listening to scientists.

And think things through - bring Back Steve¡Bong! or Nathen Barley I say.

Steve¡Bong! was a satirical invention of The Register for those who are unfamiliar

They're definitely right of centre, if that's any help?

Their decisions are almost all ideology and spin over practicality.

Or, as is presently being demonstrated by Jenrick, just wholeheartedly corrupt.

I seem to recall Tony Blair's Labour government making one significant foreign policy decision that rather outweighs anything the Tories have done since, but if you'd prefer I stick to Labour's financial incompetence I could just mention PFI.

PFI started under the leadership of Conservative PM John Major. I don't agree with it, but the reason Labour carried on with it is because it's a neat accounting trick for hiding capital spending. Tories have criticised Labour capital spending since forever, so it's not surprising that the most right leaning Labour administration in years carried on using the new trick the Tories invented for hiding capital spending.

Also the financial incompetence thing is a Daily Mail meme, the statistics show that Labour administrations have been consistently better at growing the economy and reducing government deficits since WW2, 2008 bank bailout notwithstanding. But you are not going to seriously argue that the Conservative party, which receives huge donations from the financial industry, would have let those banks go bust? And the deregulation that allowed the 2008 financial collapse to happen all occurred under the conservative governments of Thatcher and Major.

The economy does better under governments that spend money because it has a lubricating effect. Surely it's obvious that if the NHS is the biggest employer in the country and you don't give anyone that works for it a pay rise for 7 years, it's going to affect the spending power of a significant block of consumers, NHS employees are somewhere between 7-12% of the working population of the UK. The doctors, paramedics, nurses etc will spend less in all the little businesses like pubs, hairdressers, day trips, builders... etc.

139 of the 166 Tory MPs voted in favour of the war; it was a truly bipartisan failure, on both sides of the atlantic. https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/how-mp-vote-iraq-war-8...

Attempting to spread the blame like that is frankly a ridiculous stunt to try to pull - the Tory MPs weren't party to the execrable backroom shenanigans that we are now all very well aware went on.

Given we're still making comparisons to the almost seventy year old foreign policy clusterfuck around the Suez Canal [1], before any partisan stone-throwing you should probably check you're not in a glass house.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suez_Crisis

> outweighs anything the Tories have done since

They're certainly trying to 1-up it with their coronavirus response (almost 70000 excess deaths compared to e.g France's ~30000)

...and competent enough to execute on it.

(not specific to this case)

It's so often both in some ratio.

The worst combination is largely corrupt and incompetent leading to people causing massive damages for small personal profit.

Two potential outcomes I can think of: 1. The UK builds ground stations and combines timing data from OneWeb with ground station reference points to achieve high navigation precision, 2. "You are within 1km of your destination. For final routing instructions, join OneWeb now for the low rate of"

yes, UK can cover itself with ground stations and thus can get the high precision on the island. That wouldn't help though to target weapons or even to just drive ships/tanks/planes anywhere else in the world.

Built in Florida and launched from French South America on Russian rockets but labeled British... Still if it worked the British army's annual communications bill would probably pay for it.

If someone is inclined to critique this, have they considered the whole situation, and do they have better ideas? Remain in the EU has sailed, sadly. What do we do now?

Is it possible investing in an existing space company is the best path for the UK to have its own GPS-like satellites?

The UK has a world-leading satellite industry, and could just launch them on Falcon 9 or Starship when operational - likely at drastically lower cost than Ariane. In fact I suspect that due to technological advance and lower cost of launching on SpaceX, the UK could probably develop a superior system to Galileo at a fraction of the cost, which would be amusing.

If they wanted a high resolution positioning system to cover the British isles, it could be accomplished with an entirely ground based triangulation network at a tiny fraction of the cost. Same principles, just cheaper, and a smaller area covered.

Does that work with GPS chips in phones?

Does that facilitate research into space?

Does that provide continuity for existing space research/universities?

Is space research considered to be geopolitically important?

I don't know the answers to these, but I do know these decisions are beyond arm chair critique.

>Does that work with GPS chips in phones?

I'm not super familiar with how Differential GPS works in practice, but I believe that the common phone receivers are able to pick it up. At the very least they're able to handle satellite based augmentations like WAAS and QZSS

Also less know:

GPS can be used as an additional "highish" precision clock source for servers.

It works based on the device having known GPS position and knowledge that the position didn't change at all.

EDIT: This as far as I know also applies to other GPS like systems.

The problem is the British sea. If it's just the land mass it's really not a supper big problem. It's still kinda big as devices would need to specially manufactured for their system, which can drive costs up.

As asked up thread, why do we need our own duplicate GPS system anyway? Is this a sensible use of limited funds?

I don't know what motivation is, but there's a few plausible options:

* the UK may not want critical infrastructure provided elsewhere

* the UK may have research/student folk who would have previously worked on Galileo, but now cannot

* the UK may want to fund this as a vehicle for space research in general

Most plausible:

* UK wants a big vanity project to show how much better they are out of the EU

I don't know which is most plausible.

What makes you think that is most plausible?

The last four years of living in the UK

Ah, the classic "the government cannot do a good thing, therefore this must be a bad thing".

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