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‘Clean, Sovereign Brexit’ a ‘Win-Win’ for British Science, Say Leading Academics

Brexit
GLYN KIRK/AFP/Getty Images
JACK MONTGOMERY

“No Deal” Brexit should hold no fear for British science and research, according to a group of distinguished academics.

In a letter to the left-liberal Guardian, fifteen scholars including a neuroscientist, a professor of oncology, and the chief scientific adviser to the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic pushed back against the doomsaying of the academic establishment on the supposedly disastrous prospect of a clean exit from the European Union or World Trade Organization (WTO) terms– the so-called “No Deal” option.

“British universities are the strongest and most attractive in Europe. With a clean sovereign Brexit, British universities get the best of both worlds,” the renegade academics insisted.

“They escape the European Commission’s shackles imposed through the withdrawal agreement and, like other successful third-party countries (Israel, Norway, and Switzerland, for example), can participate in EU programmes like Horizon 2020 at will… This is a win-win situation which does not require the UK to surrender sovereignty or accept destructive conditions.”

They dismissed the idea that “whole countries should be forced into political servitude in order to qualify for academic or scientific mutual exchange” as “ridiculous, illogical and completely without evidence.”

“No country has ever had to accept this from the EU before,” they added.

The European Union has won the loyalty of many British academics by funding Jean Monnet Chairs for European integration, with a remit “to deepen teaching in EU Studies … mentor the young generation of researchers in EU Studies … and organise activities … targeting to policymakers local, regional, national”, as well as providing opportunities to win visiting fellowships at Continental institutions like the European University Institute.

Industry bodies like Universities UK and the Russell Group — which recently wrote a letter to MPs alleging that No Deal would be highly damaging — will often harp on the importance of the EU funding their universities receive, although eurosceptics claim this is disingenuous given the United Kingdom puts roughly twice as much into the EU’s budget as it receives from the bloc.

“[T]he university organisations’ letter to MPs [warning against No Deal] has ‘Project Fear’ Mark IV’s fingerprints all over it. It should be seen for what it is and ignored,” the Brexiteer academics conclude.

The full list of signatories to the letter endorsing a clean Brexit is reproduced below:

Baroness Deech House of Lords and former principal of St Anne’s College, Oxford
Professor Nigel Biggar Regius professor of moral and pastoral theology, University of Oxford
Professor David Coleman Emeritus professor of demography, University of Oxford
Dr Philip Cunliffe Dept of Politics & International Relations, University of Kent
Professor Angus Dalgleish Foundation professor of oncology, St George’s, University of London
Professor Robin Dunbar Professor of evolutionary psychology, University of Oxford
Professor AWF Edwards Emeritus professor of biometry, University of Cambridge
Professor Paul Elbourne Professor of the philosophy of language, University of Oxford
Dr Graham Gudgin Centre for business research, University of Cambridge
Professor Rudolf Hanka University of Cambridge and chief scientific adviser to the PM of the Czech Republic
Dr Lee Jones Reader in international politics, Queen Mary University of London
Professor Gwythian Prins Emeritus research professor, London School of Economics
Dr DH Robinson Fellow in history, Magdalen College, Oxford
Professor Robert Tombs Emeritus professor of French history, University of Cambridge
Dr Ian Winter Neuroscientist, University of Cambridge

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