Bill Gates, the Microsoft founder and world’s richest man, has said the UK will continue as a world-leader in science and technology after Brexit, despite opposing the UK’s break from the European Union (EU).
Before last year’s referendum, Mr. Gates was accused of being part of ‘project fear’, after claiming the UK would be “significantly less attractive” outside the bloc and “stronger, more prosperous and more influential” inside the EU.
Now, speaking to The Telegraph over a year after the British people voted to leave, the billionaire has changed his tune.
Mr. Gates, 61, said he had donated £750 billion to the top universities in Britain “because they’re the best at doing lots of this important work”, he said, adding: “We’re always looking at the quality of those institutions.”
He praised elements of EU membership, including unified drug testing across the continent, certain grants, and the ability of scientists to move around. The government has said, however, that they will aim to protect all these benefits after the split.
“If there’s a diminution in UK science, which I’m not predicting there would be, but you have some challenges to overcome to make sure that doesn’t happen,” Mr. Gates said.
The former Microsoft boss also called for the UK to maintain its foreign aid budget before the referendum, something the government recently announced they will do.
According to The Sun, plans to continue contributing £1 billion a year to Europe’s foreign aid programmes were buried in the Government’s proposals for a full foreign, defence, and security partnership with the EU post-Brexit.
It means Britain could continue paying £400 million a year into the European Development Fund – with very little say on how it is spent. And a further £935 million a year could continue to flow into other EU overseas aid programmes.
Earlier this year, Mr. Gates warned that Africa’s population explosion will overwhelm Europe unless the continent makes it more difficult for migrants to reach its shores.