Cambridge, UK – A survey commissioned by the UK Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) highlights widespread concerns among chemists about a no-deal Brexit.
With the House of Commons once again rejecting prime minister Theresa May’s proposed deal on 12 March, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms ever closer.
A 2018 Bank of England report said the chemistry sector’s output would drop by a third if the UK left without agreement. This assessment put the value of chemistry at £50bn ($65.5 bn) to the UK economy. It would be one of the hardest hit sectors.
The RSC questioned 5800 chemistry professionals from the UK, the EU, and further afield.
The results provide clear evidence that a no-deal exit could be catastrophic for science and innovation in the UK. In total 72% of respondents said that a no-deal Brexit would be ‘very negative’. Only 4% thought it would have a positive impact.
‘[This] should be a sobering reminder for government about the potential impacts this could have on UK science and innovation,’ said RSC policy and evidence manager Tanya Sheridan. ‘We are now counting down in days to the deadline for crashing out of the EU without a deal. It is absolutely crucial for the chemical sciences and the hundreds of thousands working in industry and academia who feel they are being hung out to dry over this uncertainty.’
She added that it is ‘vital’ the government ensures a good deal for science and innovation that supports jobs and allows both academia and industry to maintain the UK’s world-leading position. ‘No deal is not an option for the chemical sciences,’ she said.
Respondents were most worried about: access to international facilities; international collaborative networks; funding for fundamental research; access to large-scale grants; and, easy movement for skilled scientists. And 71% believed a new visa requirement would make the UK less attractive. In total 84% believed that freedom of movement had positively affected science and innovation.
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