Brexit means exit for British science
Theresa May joined in with her cabinet’s patriotic self-love at Tory conference, with talk of our wonderful athletes, soldiers, and Nobel laureates.
Speaking in Birmingham yesterday, she called Britain:
‘A successful country – small in size but large in stature – that with less than one per cent of the world’s population boasts more Nobel Laureates than any country outside the United States, with three more added again just yesterday. Two of whom worked here in this great city.’
Perhaps May should have spoken to them before she addressed the faithful.
This morning, two of those laureates, physicist Duncan Haldane and chemist Sir Fraser Stoddart, have warned that Brexit was bad news for British science, and trashed the government’s curbs on immigration.
Speaking to the Guardian, Haldane, who won the Nobel prize for Physics on Tuesday, said the loss of EU research grants after Brexit mean he might not return to Britain:
‘I was seriously considering coming back a few years ago [from Princeton, New York].
It was suggested it might be possible to get one of these €5m ERC grants. That’s much better support than I can get here.
These grants are specifically aimed at bringing established people back. Without that it makes it more difficult for people to come back.’
Sir Fraser, who won his Nobel prize on Wednesday, said Brexit was ‘not going to be good news for British science’, and took aim at May’s curbs to free movement:
‘I am very disturbed by the talk coming out of the UK at the moment.
Anything that stops the free movement of people is a big negative for science.’
He also told the BBC World Service he hopes Brexit will not happen:
‘This is not good news for scientists in the UK and I would hope that this whole business of Brexit would either go away or just did not happen because this is not good for science.
Science is a global pursuit, it must allow people to come and go across different cultures from different countries.
It [Brexit] puts British science in jeopardy and I would not be surprised to see the most able scientists in the country leave.’
It sounds like ‘Brexit means exit’ for British science. Perhaps Theresa May should do more research before her patriotic ‘boasts’.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.