back to article Brexit in spaaaace! At T-1 year and counting: UK politicos ponder impact

Countries are pouncing on space work originally destined for the UK like a “feeding frenzy of hyenas” according to a selection of representatives from the UK industry and education sectors. The British government’s EU Internal Market Sub-Committee took evidence yesterday on the implications of Britain's exit from the European …

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  1. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Mawson later made the point, while waving his phone, that “the right drivers and the right mindset, and the right people in the right room” was the key to “very small things becoming quite big things”.

    Lord Mawson sounds like an utter twat to me.

    The right minds in the right room could come up with a bright idea, but spacey things tend to cost quite a lot of money. Is our Gov gonna fund development of that idea along with all the other post-Brexit expenditure it's been promising? Seems unlikely to me

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      But I thought that leaving the EU would save the U.K. ₤350million per week. Can't they spare some of that?

      Oh, I forgot... that's going to make a big, beautiful National Health Service.

      The biggest, most beautiful National Health Service you've ever seen...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        "But I thought that leaving the EU would save the U.K. ₤350million per week. Can't they spare some of that?"

        It will. But circa 1/3 of it will be taken to replace the money we did get back from the EU. The rest of it is presumably up for grabs though.

    2. joma0711

      Didn't I read on the Reg a couple of years ago about how the iPhone (or it's touchscreen at least) could have been developed in the UK, but was stymied by Government/quango not understanding the requests?

      1. Ben Tasker Silver badge
  2. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

    Hyenas?

    “like hyenas, picking at the UK workshare, like a feeding frenzy

    Not a nice image. More like a large open buffet with free drinks, where 27 guests can wander up and down, making their selections, until all that is left are a few crumbs and a curled up ham sandwich to be eaten by the waiter.

    1. John H Woods Silver badge

      "to be eaten by the waiter"

      ... sorry, he's gone back to Latvia; we have to eat that unappealing sandwich ourselves.

  3. ExampleOne

    Mawson later made the point, while waving his phone, that “the right drivers and the right mindset, and the right people in the right room” was the key to “very small things becoming quite big things”.

    He is absolutely right. Such a pity we have the wrong people in the wrong room with the wrong drivers and the wrong mindset.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      He is absolutely right. Such a pity we have the wrong people in the wrong room with the wrong drivers and the wrong mindset.

      What's a real pity is that in the UK we celebrate, every year near the beginning of November, somebody's historical failure (in an appalling way) to fix this.

      Yes, I know the comparisons aren't equal, but it's still the wrong people, in the wrong room...

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      " Such a pity we have the wrong people in the wrong room with the wrong drivers and the wrong mindset."

      And he seems to be one of them. Never heard of him before. There might be a reason for that.

    3. SVV Silver badge

      So glad we have the House of Lords, where "expertise" of such high calibre can be harnessed for the good of the nation, as demonstrated here by a member of the expert science and technology committee standing up and emitting a stream of banal obviousness of no use to anyone whatsoever.

      It's why we must keep stuffing this ancient institution with ever more people of this quality. Had he added "and in the right place at the right time, been to the right private school, having been born to the right parents, and sucked up to the right people" he'd have got closer to the reality of what those at the top really see as the rightful and deserved path to success these days. Well, it's either that or just donate wads of cash to the governing party and get a peerage, and you too can play your part in steering the great ship of state..

      This reminds me : all those politicians and their followers who state that no problem can ever by solved by simply throwing money at it are easily disproved by the ease in which the problem "how do I get a peerage?" is often precisely solved in this manner.

  4. codejunky Silver badge

    Meh

    "Lucy Berthoud of the Space Universities Network, also warned of “Brexodus”, referring to the potential loss of research staff and students."

    So the people will go where the work goes, and the work will go where the tax payer is stumping up for all this. Ok.

    "While the EU doesn't directly control where ESA work goes, because 20 of the members of ESA are also EU members, the EU has some de facto influence."

    Good for them. I honestly mean that. Hopefully they are choosing this on the best place with the best people to do the best job. One would hope.

    "Academics and industry said the impact could be mitigated, if the government finds a way to replace lost funding"

    Give me money! I want money! More money! Money money money! Who is going to piss more money on meeeeee? How about no.

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      Give me money! I want money! More money! Money money money! Who is going to piss more money on meeeeee? How about no.

      Money is like manure. You have to spread it make beautiful new things grow.

      This is especially valid as far as education, science and R&D.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        @ Voland's right hand

        "Money is like manure. You have to spread it make beautiful new things grow."

        Saying the world will end if you dont give me money is an oldie but a goodie. And of course this technology is so valuable that private enterprise will not pay for it because it is a loss. Which of course leaves governments. And hey look at the begging bowls, only having to convince a few who take the money from the many and have a wonderful history of selecting winners.... honest.

        You did skip over the part of my comment which said surely the work should be done where it is best achieved. If it is purely a welfare system (begging for public purse money) then it can be anywhere willing to splash the cash to keep these people off the dole. If its an actual attempt to succeed then the influence against this country shouldnt be a problem, because they should select the best places for the best kit/experts/academics.

        If money is like manure then nobody should be complaining about the NHS, gov nor public sector thanks to the wonderful years of shit from over a decade of labour pissing money. Money invested wisely is good. Throwing money in any old direction because it solves all problems is a sure way to run out of money and have nothing to show for it.

        1. Lomax

          Re: Meh

          @codejunky: You are blinded by your ideology.

          > "it was pointed out to Maw that SpaceX had received substantial funding from the US government and that much of the commercial space industry is spun out of research funded by governmental bodies."

          1. codejunky Silver badge

            Re: Meh

            @ Lomax

            "You are blinded by your ideology."

            Sorry I might be misunderstanding what ideology you mean. Do you mean not agreeing with us spaffing money to keep these people here as they threaten to go elsewhere if we dont? I dont have a problem with them doing that just as I have no problem with us participating in the space projects if we are deemed a country with the necessary resources to contribute.

            I know a lot (probably the vast majority) of space funding comes from government and I am not particularly arguing against that. I do disagree we should beg to keep them here so we can pay them not to leave for a job that will be done anyway in a group we are already part of. I believe the best for the job should be chosen and if that is not how the project is conducted then we dont need to join in the bribing. Seems a waste of money.

            1. Lomax

              Re: Meh

              @codejunky: I mean the ideology which refers to government funding as "spaffing money".

              1. codejunky Silver badge

                Re: Meh

                @ Lomax

                "I mean the ideology which refers to government funding as "spaffing money"."

                Cheers for the clarification. It does depend on what we consider important and there has to be an amount of spending by government. But the government has spaffed money and it has harmed the country as New Labour demonstrated during the greatest boom.

                Its up to the ESA where the money goes and if they want to follow the money then cool, I dont hold that against them at all. If the ESA decide the UK does not provide for its needs then fine, why should we be upset about that? We should be happy for the job to go where the best results should be. I dont think we should put money in the begging bowl of those not willing to pursue those jobs wherever they go, and I equate that with expensive welfare if they are not worth the ESA's time unless we spaff money on the UK academics.

                This is a demand for more money. Something of a regular sight when an excuse presents itself and if one doesnt present one will be created. And its the people who get to pay this not the gov. These few people are demanding the many are exploited to pay them for not pursuing the work elsewhere or being good enough in this country to attract that work.

        2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
          Facepalm

          Re: Meh

          If it is purely a welfare system (begging for public purse money) then it can be anywhere willing to splash the cash to keep these people off the dole.

          Yeah, let's stop providing universal education, it only makes the peasant uppity. Best leave it to private enterprise to decide which of the poor are deserving of an education and which are best in the workhouse…

          1. codejunky Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: Meh

            @ Charlie Clark

            "Yeah, let's stop providing universal education, it only makes the peasant uppity."

            Please clarify what garbage you are claiming I am saying so I can be certain for what I am laughing at you for.

    2. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      @codejunky

      It is precisely your attitude which has meant that a large number of scientific and technological advances which were originally conceived in Britain have had to go elsewhere to find the funding to progress from "interesting theory" to "commercial success".

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Meh

        @ Alister

        "originally conceived in Britain have had to go elsewhere to find the funding to progress from "interesting theory" to "commercial success"."

        Is that a problem? Do we want a theory or a commercial success? The commercial success being the advances that we actually get to access while a theory while cool does lack the implementation.

        But is that what we are talking about here? This is a European project to produce a good for the European group which we are a member. While we care that it gets done do we care where as long as we access the advancements? And surely the academics will move with the work or if this country is best placed to do 'it' (whatever parts) work remains here. What this article seems to suggest is we cough up more money to keep the work here, which costs us more to get the advancement we would have anyway. Do correct me if I am wrong but if I am right then we are paying more, and we may want to consider if it is worth it.

  5. Dr_N Silver badge

    "Project Fear"

    All this was forewarned. But the majority voted for the abstract, illiberal-brexit-elite's pipe dreams of oodles of refunded EU contributions and apocryphal amazing new trade deals selling products (that make up 20% of the UK economy at best) to former colonies who couldn't give a XXXX.

    Just the consequences of "taking back control" and "sovereignty".

    Just deal with it. More austerity should help balance the books.

    Space and aeronautics are for first world nations. England[sic] needs to get accustomed to its world standing going into freefall post-brexit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Project Fear"

      Yes but when the politicians keep shitting on the people there comes a point where some people want to "stick it to the man" regardless of the cost, other example is Trump.

      1. James 51 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: "Project Fear"

        They should have enough sense to not eat it by the shovel full while venting their frustration.

      2. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: "Project Fear"

        there comes a point where some people want to "stick it to the man"

        I absolutely agree, and there was plenty of legitimacy in calls to change how things are, but blaming the EU for all the woes inflicted by our own governments and the society we all allowed to envelop us was like burning down the hospitals because the council charges too much for waste collection.

        Brexiteers have not fixed anything, are even making things worse, and could have irretrievable ruined Britain.

        Mine's the one with the chlorinated chicken sandwich and a bill from the hospital in the pocket ->

    2. 45RPM Silver badge

      Re: "Project Fear"

      Can the promoters of Brexit, the likes of Johnson, Mogg, Farage et al be tried for treason? Because that’s what they deserve.

      1. Pen-y-gors Silver badge

        Re: "Project Fear"

        @45RPM

        Can the promoters of Brexit, the likes of Johnson, Mogg, Farage et al be tried for treason?

        IANAL but it's an interesting question, and a good lawyer could probably take this one all the way to the Supreme Court.

        The Treason Act 1351 (as amended, but still in force) states that one of the ways to commit high treason (low treason has been abolished) is to "offer aid and comfort to the King's enemies". I'd say that doing things that help and encourage the Queen's enemies (by economically and politically weakening the nation, and the treaties that strengthen it) - things which are welcomed by Russia, a clear enemy - can count as aiding and comforting.

        The death penalty no longer applies, but re-purposing Dartmoor, complete with quarry and rocks, as a retirement home for leading Quitlings holds a certain charm.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: "Project Fear"

          Interesting that Russia supports UK leaving EU and I think no commonwealth or former commonwealth country supports the idea.

        2. Nick Kew Silver badge
          Stop

          Re: "Project Fear"

          The death penalty no longer applies, but re-purposing Dartmoor,

          Oi! Hands off my stomping-ground! Re-purpose your own bloomin' back yard!

        3. Red Bren
          Trollface

          Re: "Project Fear"

          @Pen-y-gors

          "The death penalty no longer applies..."

          After Brexit, the UK can withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights and reintroduce the death penalty, specifically to deal with the deceivers that sold out the country to further their own (and the Kremlin's) interests. Then we can apply for a fast-track, hard rejoin of the EU, with Schengen and the Euro thrown in.

      2. Dacarlo

        Re: "Project Fear"

        Only in their native country of Russia.

      3. Nano nano

        Re: "Project Fear"

        They could join Guido on the pyre each November...

  6. Geekpride
    Pirate

    The space industry is exactly the kind of thing the UK should be looking to take a leading role in. We've got a good reputation for science and good universities to provide the expertise. But now, because of the utter *&5^*&^* that is Brexit, we're going to lose out. And this is yet another case of the consequences not being considered, or ignored when they are.

    Icon because we're shooting ourselves in the foot so much the whole nation is going to need peg legs.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge
      Flame

      Who cares? We can make the exceedingly rich even richer, trash society, stamp on the down trodden and even better we get to blame "forrners" for it all. As long as we can still afford to pathetically wave around some (tariff free, made in China) Union Jack flags (amended to exclude NI of course, and let's forget Gibraltar as well) and have blue passports, which we could have had any time we wanted, what does it matter?

      Stop thinking of the children! Let's destroy the country for them...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The space industry is exactly the kind of thing the UK should be looking to take a leading role in.

      It is, in fact, something the UK has a leading role in, despite what the doom-mongers would have us think. And with some intelligent planning (yes, not government planning, of course) there's no reason we can't keep that role, we don't need the EU to tell us how it should be done.

      1. Geekpride

        The EU doesn't tell the UK how to participate in the space industry. The big upcoming problem with this and every other industry is the government's determination to exit the single market and customs union. Making it more difficult for people to access your industry is going to damage it and lead to the business going elsewhere. That's why there's the feeding frenzy of other countries grabbing this business mentioned in the article.

      2. Dan 55 Silver badge

        there's no reason we can't keep that role

        Apart from the reasons given in the article, no...

    3. CheesyTheClown

      Elimination of universal education will hurt

      Consider that science/engineering students generally come from all social classes and more importantly countries. The high cost of education will require that potentially gifted mathematics and science students will be forced to focus their attention on directly profitable areas of research to cover their costs.

      England is as well regarded as they are because they have fostered research by providing universal education. This meant that England could produce the best mathematicians and physicists who may only produce theoretical results with no direct application. The result was drawing the best potential applied physics and mathematics students from around the world to study with the best.

      I expect that in 15 years, the British population at CERN will be considerably lower. I expect that top notch immigrant students at Oxford and Chambridge will be far less. I expect large numbers of top potential students will be focused on applied sciences as opposed to theoretical as student loans must be paid.

      I wouldn’t invest long term in the U.K. following the loss of universal education and the exclusionary principles of Brexit. I honestly would question the legitimacy of any scientist that wasn’t borderline fundamentalist globalist. It would be proof of a limited understanding of action and consequence. Most scientists are part of the global science community... there is simply no room for diseases like patriotism there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Elimination of universal education will hurt

        I honestly would question the legitimacy of any scientist that wasn’t borderline fundamentalist globalist.

        Absolutely, and this is where people are missing the point. The EU is fundamentally parochial, by leaving it the UK is putting itself back in a position where it can be globalist. There are 160-odd countries that aren't in the EU, that is where the future of UK science and business lies. Not with an economically stagnant, inward-looking, paternalistic empire.

        Of course, that will require drive and commitment from within the UK, which seems sadly lacking in some quarters.

        1. ZSn

          Re: Elimination of universal education will hurt

          @Anonymous Coward

          CodeJunky is that you?

        2. ArrZarr Silver badge
          Unhappy

          Re: Elimination of universal education will hurt

          @AC

          I voted against Brexit.

          Having said that, I honestly believe that if we were to have our cards played right, the country would come out better for it.

          Having said THAT, I honestly believe that the people playing our cards don't know which game they're playing, let alone the rules for the game. Telling your opponent to go fish if you're playing solitaire is going to make the people around you look at each other uncertainly and wonder if you're quite alright.

  7. Aladdin Sane Silver badge
    Big Brother

    Maybe we should promote our position as Air Spacestrip One?

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dual use Item

    Dual use items are items that have both a military and civilian application. The EU Dual-Use list is contructed from controls based on the export control regimes that the EU member states are members of, predominantly the Wassenaar arrangement.

    The UK will not leave these arrangements so the control list that the UK operate will be largely unchanged. Under art 22/10 the EU Counsel Regulation 428/2009 as amended. EU member states do not need an export license to transfer items listed on the Dual use list unless they are the more sensitive items listed in Annex IV of the regulation.

    After Brexit the UK will no longer be able to transfer items under art 22/10 and a new licensing situation will need to be put in place. This licensing situation will largely depend on whether we remain in the customs union and the trading relationship we have with the EU

    1. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: Dual use Item

      Thankfully, software is not covered under the Wassenaar arrangement. Perhaps the UK, which has exceedingly fine universities and unusually fine students and professors, might turn their efforts in that direction. That would also be useful for international trade as well.

      [It's amused me that software is not covered. There are moves in that direction, horrifying the infosec community. We toss fully weaponised code about all the time. At rest, let's just say that I'm very careful at my storage here as I play both red and blue team.]

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    the space stuff the UK wasn't gonna do anyway?

    or like Eddie Izzard used to comment about, just build taller ladders?

    Seems like some outfit that got subsidized by EU money to get scraps, while the French do the heavy lifting and the Germans build the hardware, is butthurt they're not going to get that money to gnaw the bone the EU was gonna throw their way.

    This whole anti brexit thing is like a whole lot of government contractors whinghing about not getting porkbarrel projects because they're not cronies of the new administration. If no ones gonna spend money on the "bridge to nowhere" then they're all out of jobs, but they sure as hell can't say "we're not getting paid someone else's money to do things that others already do" so cry "brexit is takin our jerbs!"

    Britain wants a space program? Find out how much money you got, how much you wanna spend, cut things that aren't space program. Wanna be the SJW leader of Europe? forget about your space program and keep spending more money on the past, and ignore the future. Same advice Americans need to decide about their spending.

    Which is why private industry is getting it done. No need for international business cartels if one international businessman can do it, eh?

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: the space stuff the UK wasn't gonna do anyway?

      Which is why private industry is getting it done.

      You do not have the faintest ideas on how much public financing is utilized by "private companies" like SpaceX and how much of their order book is from the public purse. I suggest you take their annual results and study them more closely.

    2. Yes Me Silver badge
      Megaphone

      This whole anti brexit thing

      This whole anti brexit thing is like a whole lot of government contractors whinghing about not getting porkbarrel projects because they're not cronies of the new administration.
      That comment shows that you have utterly misunderstood the problems caused by Brexit. It's true that some EU-funded R&D money will be lost, which is what academics and hi-tech industries are complaining about. But that is completely secondary to the drastic fall in general trade in goods and services that would be caused by leaving the single market and by losing all the EU's international free trade agreements. The first loss is hundreds of millions, the second one is billions per year and would condemn the country to recession and poverty for at least 20 years. Enjoy, or better, cancel Brexit.

  10. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

    Funny that there's no mention of...

    ... Skylon and the SABRE engine from Reaction Engines.

    I've heard nothing from them for ages. Have they beem taken over by Government?

    1. Phukov Andigh Bronze badge

      Re: Funny that there's no mention of...

      I read something about them not too long ago. Incremental improvements and continued hard work towards a flight ready motor, Pretty sure they've demonstrated the most innovative bits within the last year or so and are working to integrate their cryo stage into the somewhat standard-ish turbojet stack

      the same sort of boring but necessary work to truly innovate which doesn't get as much press attention anymore unless it blows up or benefits someone politically to crow about.

      We won't hear any big positive press until they fly, I fear.

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