Britain could lose out on European scientific talent and progress in future if it chooses Brexit and leaves the European Union, according to Professor Stephen Hawking and 150 other distinguished scientists.
The UK should stay within the European Union as an exit would be a “disaster” for British science.
This was the stark warning from 150 scientists of the Royal Society, including renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who signed a letter to the Times newspaper.
Disaster For Science
“We now recruit many of our best researchers from continental Europe, including younger ones who have obtained EU grants and have chosen to move with them here,” reads the letter.
“Being able to attract and fund the most talented Europeans assures the future of British science and also encourages the best scientists elsewhere to come here,” said the scientists.
“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 and universities.”
The scientists include three Nobellaureates as well as Professor Hawking. And they warn about the impact on funding in this country, pointing to figures that show the UK received received £2.4 billion more in research grants back from the EU than it paid out.
“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,” said the scientists.
They also pointed to Switzerland, which although it pays into the EU, is now apparently struggling to attract young talent after voting to restrict the free movement of workers.
The letter, organised by Sir Alan Fersht, a University of Cambridge professor who specialises in protein science, is the latest public declaration about the possibility of the UK exiting the EU.
Last week tech firms belonging to Tech London Advocates members said they oppose Brexit, because they believe that membership of the EU boosts the UK economy by making it more attractive to international businesses looking to operate in Britain.
British voters go to the polls on 23 June to vote on the issue.
Professor Hawking, meanwhile, has not been afraid of expressing his opinion in recent times