Scientists Plan Mass Lobby Of Parliament Over Brexit Worries

By James O Malley on at

Pic: Shane on Flickr.

Britain leaving the European Union could hurt scientific research - and the government needs to do more to protect it, say scientists.

The grassroots campaign group Science is Vital has today announced that it is organising a mass-lobby of MPs at Parliament, due to take place on 31st January. The plan is that the scientists will hunt down their MP, and remind them just how important the EU is to their jobs.

The two big problems caused by Brexit are related to money and movement. At the moment Britain participates in EU-organised funding programmes for scientific research - which means that our scientists could end up not getting a share of the cash.

Chair of the group Andrew Steele told me that "The EU has huge positive effects on UK science. Access to EU research programmes allow UK scientists to collaborate more easily with researchers across Europe. We're even a net winner from these programmes: we pay around £12 per UK citizen per year into the EU's research budget, and get about £15 back."

"If the government continues along the path to a hard Brexit, there's a serious risk that we'll lose access to EU research. This would be a disaster for UK science, from research into life-saving cures to new energy technologies", he warns.

The other problem is movement: The ability to move and work anywhere in the EU has previously enabled specialist scientists to move and collaborate more easily. Andrew points to the work of another campaign group, Scientists for EU, which has collected dozens of stories of collaborations disrupted and jobs that have been turned down already, as a result of the Brexit vote.

Science is Vital also believes that the lobby is more important given yesterday's Supreme Court ruling which confirmed that MPs will get a vote on invoking Article 50. "MPs have the power to ask the government for its plans, and to scrutinise those plans in Parliament. We want to make sure that science has a voice at this critical time."

You can find out more about why, er, science is vital on the Science is Vital website.