This uncertainty is particularly worrying for the non-UK, EU researchers already based in the UK, and Tony argued that resolving this should be a priority. The University of Sheffield alone hosts 230 researchers and 320 PGRs from Europe, whose skills and expertise help create our dynamic research environment. “The government are negotiating with people’s lives and this is not acceptable when working with people who have given a contractual agreement and assumed freedom of movement and right to remain when they came here” he said. Paul agreed, stating that the problem isn’t helped by the Government viewing migration and science as separate issues.
Until the election results are in, and the terms of Brexit enter the discussion again, what should our priorities – as scientists – be now? Tony urged us to continue to advance the case for science by bidding for funding and forging international collaborations. “Don’t dig yourself into a trench and isolate yourself” he said. “You make the reality and politicians have to react to that”. For the Royal Society, and other scientific learned societies, the work continues to make sure that the debate is an informed one, and that the government knows what researchers need. “The scientific endeavour will go on and we need to create the right environment or research and innovation in the UK” she said.
As Tony concluded “We’re in until we’re out”: so let’s keep the spirit of scientific enquiry burning in the meantime!
A number of resources were mentioned during the debate, where you can find out more about the implications of Brexit for research. These include:
Science Priorities for Brexit : a statement from the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee
Brexit, Article 50 and the EU Referendum - Information page from the University of Sheffield
The Government's Plan for Britain
The Campaign for Science and Engineering's Europe/Brexit page.