Nobel laureates issue warning on hard Brexit

By Emma Leach

Paul Nurse - Photo Credit: Wikimedia commons

‘The challenges we face must be tackled in a manner that benefits everyone and those challenges are better faced together.’

This is one of the closing statements used in two separate letters sent to Prime Minister Theresa May and President Jean-Claude Juncker of the European Commission on the 19thof October. Imploring for the closest possible scientific collaboration between the UK and the EU after Brexit.

29 Nobel laureates and 6 Field Medal winners signed the letter to the two leaders. Signatories included Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, and Paul Nurse who is a director of the Francis Crick Institute in London.

Venki Ramakrishnan - Photo credit: Wikimedia commons

Shortly after this letter to Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker, the Francis Crick Institute released statistics gathered from over 1,000 staff, revealing that 97% of those surveyed believe that a hard Brexit would be bad for UK science. The results go on to further reflect the unease felt within the scientific community regarding Brexit, with only 3% of those surveyed believing that the scientific community is being listened to and represented during the discussions surrounding Brexit.

The Francis Crick Institute is a £650 million biomedical research facility based in London, the largest biomedical research facility found under one roof in the whole of Europe. It boasts first class facilities and attracts the best and brightest scientists from all across the globe to carry out ground breaking research. Concerns have been raised however, as to whether the UK will continue attracting top talent post Brexit, with over half of those surveyed in the institution stating that they are less likely to look within the UK for their next position.

Concerns include those surrounding citizenship and freedom of movement, restrictions to access in funding, and the ability to continue to attract top talent to research groups. The letters point out that in order for science to flourish, it ‘requires the flow of people and ideas across borders to allow the rapid exchange of ideas, expertise and technology’. Only time will tell if May and Juncker heed their message.

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