Cheltenham MP blasts European Commission’s “insulting” Galileo position as “absolutely shooting itself in the foot”

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk has slammed the potential exclusion of the UK from the Galileo Programme by the European Commission on the grounds of being a security risk as “unreasonable, unfair and bordering on the insulting.”

Alex Chalk made his comments during a Parliamentary debate on the sat-nav  and security system.

He asked Defence Minister Guto Bebb:  “British intelligence agencies, including GCHQ in my constituency, make an enormous contribution to European security. In those circumstances, for Britain to be threatened with exclusion on the grounds of security is unreasonable, unfair and bordering on the insulting.”

Alex Chalk explained: “This is the European Commission absolutely shooting itself in the foot.  Throwing the UK out of Galileo would delay it by three years and cost the EU £1bn more. The UK has played a major role in developing satellites for Galileo, an alternative to the US GPS system. To suggest we are somehow a security risk is absurd!

“Defence Ministers right across Europe have been clear that they think the European Commission's view is wrong and would not only be detrimental to Britain, but to wider European security.”

Mr Bebb expressed frustration that the European Commission has used Galileo as a "negotiating tactic", despite the UK being clear that "we would never negotiate on the basis of our security concerns".

He said: "I think the frustration for ministers in many ways is that the discussions that we have had with bilateral counterparts in Europe have invariably been positive, but it seems as if the European Commission sees this as a negotiating tactic." 

Labour Brexit committee chairman Hilary Benn was one of many MPs to reinforce the cross party anger. He echoed Alex Chalk’s comments saying “The European Commission’s approach in this matter is counterproductive and, in suggesting that the UK could suddenly become a security risk after we have left, frankly insulting.”

Mr Bebb confirmed that the UK was ready to build its own system if the EU failed to give it full access to Galileo system being developed.