Phil Wilson

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Stephen Hawking: Brexit “disaster for science”

In a letter to the Times Stephen Hawking, has warned against the UK leaving the EU.


Hawking, along with more than 150 fellows of the Royal Society including 3 Nobel Laureates, have said that leaving the EU could be a “disaster for science”.

In their letter the group wrote “We now recruit many of our best researchers from continental Europe, including younger ones who have obtained EU grants and have chosen to move here with them.”

Any threat to the freedom of movement, they warn, could have a devastating impact on research, “If the UK leaves the EU and there is a loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe it will be a disaster for UK science”

In the letter the group use Switzerland as an example of the damage restricting the freedom of movement can do.  

“Switzerland pays into the EU and was a popular destination for young scientists. It now has limited access to EU funds because it voted to restrict the free movement of workers, and it desperately trying to find alternative ways to attract young talent.”

Membership of the EU brings however, more than just scientists to the UK, Professor Sir Alan Fersht, who was behind the letter, told the times that the UK has received funding worth £6.8 billion from Europe.

To end the letter, the group compare free movement of scientists as important for science, as free trade is for the economic market.

“Investment in science is as important for the long-term prosperity and security of the UK as investment in infrastructure projects, farming or manufacturing; and the free movement of scientists is as important for science as free trade is for market economics.”

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