Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron, whose failure to persuade British voters to stay in the EU led to his exit from office, was caught on camera saying Brexit was not going as badly as he had believed it would. The EU also confirmed the UK would lose an important space agency after leaving.
Cameron, who called the June 2016 referendum after being returned to power the year before, campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, arguing that leaving the bloc would send the country into an economic tailspin.
However, despite his dire warnings, British voters shocked the political establishment by voting 52 to 48 percent for Brexit, prompting Cameron to announce he would step down.
“As I keep saying, it’s a mistake not a disaster. It’s turned out less badly than we first thought,” Cameron was caught saying to Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“But it’s… still going to be difficult,” he said in footage captured by Britain’s Channel 5 News.
The man who called the EU referendum says what he really thinks about Brexit…
— 5News (@5_News) January 24, 2018
Britain’s economy has withstood the Brexit vote shock better than most private economists expected at the time of the vote but it has lagged behind growth rates seen in most other leading economies.
Theresa May, who replaced Cameron as prime minister and vowed that Britain will exit the bloc in March 2019, has faced widespread criticism for her leadership on the issue.
The country remains deeply polarised about Brexit and research indicates there is growing concern amongst Britons about how the divorce talks are proceeding and pessimism about the economic impact of leaving.
Galileo, let me go
A security centre for the European Union’s Galileo navigation satellites will be moved from Britain to Spain because of Brexit, the EU executive said on Wednesday after a meeting of its commissioners.
With Britain already losing 1,000 jobs as the EU’s medicines and banking agencies quit London for the continent, the departure of the Galileo Security Monitoring Centre back-up site from Swanwick near Southampton will involve only a single employee.
However, once in Spain, the operation may expand to possibly as many as 30 staff, as the Galileo system grows to challenge the U.S. Global Positioning System, GPS.
The British site backs up the main GSMC near Paris whose role is to counter security threats to satellites and signals.
The British government says it wants to maintain close ties to the EU in areas such as space science, where Britain is a major provider of funds and expertise.
But Brussels has taken a strict line on the geography of EU institutions, insisting these must be located physically inside the Union and no longer in Britain by the time it formally quits the bloc in March 2019.