Science and Innovation after Brexit

I’ve been busy most of today so I only have a little time for a short post pointing out that the long-awaited `position paper’ about collaboration on science and innovation between the UK and EU after Brexit has now been published. Those of you intending to remain in the United Kingdom if and when it leaves the European Union might be interested in reading it. I say `might be’ rather than `will be’ as it doesn’t really say anything concrete about anything.

Here’s the overall summary:

In preparing to leave the EU, one of the UK’s core objectives is to “seek agreement to continue to collaborate with European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives”. It is the UK’s ambition to build on its unique relationship with the EU to ensure that together we remain at the forefront of collective endeavours to improve the world in which we live. The UK believes this is in the joint interest of the UK and EU, and would welcome discussion on how best to shape our future partnership in this area.

The answer to the last bit is, of course, easy. The best way to shape our future partnership in this area is unquestionably for the United Kingdom to remain in the European Union. This document says as much itself. As with most of these papers it consists primarily of a long list of the benefits in this area that the United Kingdom has enjoyed as a direct result of our membership of the European together with a desire to keep most of them after our departure. It offers no real ideas as to how to square the many circles that would involve. In particular, many EU schemes, including those funded by the European Research Council, depend on the freedom of movement the European Union guarantees. Given the leaked Home Office document outlining how it intends to deter EU citizens from coming here I don’t see how we can possibly remain an attractive destination for scientists, or anyone else for that matter.

Meanwhile, today, Parliament is debating the European Union Withdrawal Bill which, if passed, would give the Government sweeping powers – the so-called `Henry VIII’ powers – to bypass Parliament and directly repeal or amend any law it doesn’t like the look of without debate. This is exactly the right-wing power grab that many of who voted Remain feared would happen. If this Bill passes without significant amendment then we can say goodbye to our parliamentary democracy. The parallel with the Enabling Act of 1933 that gave absolute power to Adolf Hitler is frightening.

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7 Responses to “Science and Innovation after Brexit”

  1. “the so-called `Henry VIII’ powers”

    So there will be public executions again? Beheading? Drawing and quartering? At least locking people up in the Tower? That might attract some additional tourists.

    At least Henry VIII wrote some good music.

  2. “The parallel with the Enabling Act of 1933 that gave absolute power to Adolf Hitler is frightening.”

    Actually, one could argue that the Withdrawal Bill is worse. While the Enabling Act was formally implemented by a majority in the Reichstag, many members (who would have voted against it) were prevented from attending and some of those who voted for it did so at gunpoint. (Amazingly, even in these circumstances, some Social Democrats voted against it.) I don’t think that anyone voting for the Withdrawal Bill did so under threat of personal harm.

  3. Apparently the EU is now making preparations for a no-deal Brexit. Up until now, the EU thought that the UK was bluffing when the UK said that the EU was bluffing. The EU now thinks that the UK genuinely does not understand that the UK can’t pick and choose, in particular can’t have all the advantages and none of the disadvantages. Those in the know now give even odds for a no-deal Brexit.

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