Science & research

Haifa *** The full text of the letter to the Prime Minister by 21 top UK research scientists, including two Nobel laureates. ***

No-deal Brexit could wreck UK’s chance of leading Covid-19 research

Leading scientists warn in The Observer that the future of Britain’s world-renowned science sector – and its ability to lead global research into Covid-19 – risks being fatally undermined if the UK crashes out of the EU without a trade deal by the end of this year.  The range of projects and institutions affected include UK Dementia Research,   Marie Sklodowska Curie Actions, Francis Crick Institute, Royal Society, and research departments of our universities. No-deal Brexit could wreck UK’s chance of leading Covid-19 global research, Toby Helm and Robin McKie, The Observer, 3 May 2020

UK risks security and losing key skills says Unite.

Prior to Brexit the UK were major players in the Galileo project and part of a crucial supply chain for the space programme.  Airbus are world leaders in encryption technology, essential to prevent intercept messages by foreign posters.  Unite said it is essential that the UK has access to such a system in order to allow satellites to securely transmit information to other platforms which can have military, critical national infrastructure, civilian and scientific purposes.  For example, fighter jets need a satellite infrastructure to supports their operations.  “If the UK does not commit to developing its own version of Galileo it will be forced to rely on off-the-shelf systems, which will not only leave it vulnerable to denial of access to systems that underpin our most critical infrastructure but also lead to a loss of skills and jobs in the UK’s space industry.” Government must invest in UK space programme or lose skills and risk security, Unite, 23 June 2020.

Until now, Britain has held a ‘super power’ status in science and research.

Second only to the US, the UK has won the most number of Nobel prizes than any other country in the world. But the UK’s standing is likely to lose access to the EU’s research funding scheme, Horizon Europe, which runs from 2020 to 2027. The UK science minister, Amanda Solloway proudly recognised Horizon winners last April in her tweet:

After Brexit, U.K. scientists face a long road to mend ties with Europe

The web of research and development is international.  The US scientist have witnessed the unfolding of Brexit askance: “For researchers, the top issue is U.K. participation in Europe’s research program, Horizon Europe, which will run from 2021 to 2027. At about €90 billion, it is likely to be the bloc’s biggest ever. U.K. researchers now receive about £1.5 billion per year from the current 7-year programme, Horizon 2020, and during the transition, they will get the remaining year of grant money owed under the scheme. To join Horizon Europe, however, the United Kingdom will have to pay to access it in the same way as 16 other non-EU countries, including Switzerland, Norway, and Israel.” After Brexit, U.K. scientists face a long road to mend ties with Europe, Kai Kupferschmidt, AAAS, 28

Further reading

  • Science minister Chris Skidmore told Parliament that he wanted the UK to ‘associate’ with Horizon Europe — a status that could allow UK scientists to participate on similar terms to those they experience today. But, Skidmore tweeted, that association would depend on the final shape and content of the programme, which has yet to be agreed by European legislators. Brexit is happening: what does it mean for science?, Nature, Elizabeth Gibney, 29 January 2020
  • We risk being the laughing stock of the scientific world’s top scientists including two Nobel laureates have accused the United Kingdom’s prime minister, Boris Johnson, of behaving “like a clown” in pursuing a no-deal Brexit that would leave UK science “dead” for years, according to a report in The Guardian. Leaving without a deal would put at risk the UK’s involvement in the €80 billion (US$88 billion) Horizon 2020 research programme and its successor, the €94 billion (US$103 billion) Horizon Europe programme.” No-deal Brexit ‘will leave UK science dead for years, Brendan O’Malley, University World News, 1 October 2019

Full archive of statements, blogs, consultation responses and articles from the Royal Society regarding Brex and UK Science, Royal Society, 3 March 2020





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