This past weekend, 29 Nobel Laureates signed a letter to Theresa May (current Prime Minister of the UK) and Jean-Claude-Juncker (President of the European Commission) imploring them to modify the current Brexit situation in order to avoid negatively impacting British and European research.
While science and politics are usually intertwined by a string connecting the everlasting impacts of environmental factors such as climate change to the claims made by savvy politicians about their approaches to such situations, this week's repository of pleas involve the strenuous relationship of Great Britain with the rest of the European Union after a tense breakdown of negotiations during March of 2017, and how this strained partnership has put considerable pressure upon the global scientific community at large.
Sir Paul Nurse, one of the signatories and a Nobel-prize winner for his research on breast cancer, has claimed that the recent shift in the viewpoints of scientists looking to leave the UK following their self-imposed removal from the EU has left a clear message — that the scientific community throughout the European continent should be thoroughly respected as a potential hub for innovative solutions to many of the world's current and future issues, and efforts should, therefore, be facilitated in order to preserve the delicate relationship between British researchers and their brethren throughout the international scientific community.
The lasting impacts of the Brexit campaign have included a financial differential between the amount of grants supplied by the EU to British scientists and the amount given by Great Britain to others, which could ultimately snowball into an approximate $1 billion loss per year for British researchers unless Prime Minister May can secure the UK's position with an associate status working alongside EU scientists. Such a financial backlash could ultimately cause British scientists to lose potential funding for projects that could have ultimately had a significant impact on medical and technical breakthroughs worldwide.
In addition to a probable loss of monetary benefits, another significant blow facilitated by the Brexit situation includes a reduction in the ease of travel for international scientists to and from Great Britain, which could ultimately result in a loss of intellectual convergence of the world's brightest minds simply due to compounding bureaucracy. This uncertainty in continued relations with the UK has prompted approximately 78% of EU scientists to claim (via an internal survey distributed by Francis Crick Institute in London) that they felt less likely to stay in Britain, with 97% of those who responded claiming that a lack of negotiations would have a devastating consequence on the future of science in the UK and worldwide.
As a student of science who has devoted considerable time to studying the works of researchers from a wide variety of international backgrounds, I cannot help but agree with Sir Paul Nurse's assertion that the negative impacts of Brexit to international relations will have far-reaching consequences on the field of scientific research and innovation. The very nature of discovery is centered amongst the meeting of the world's greatest minds in a joint effort to consolidate efforts to cure the world's ailments, including sweeping poverty and famine in a multitude of regions across the globe. A lack of proper relations between nations will ultimately have disastrous ramifications in relation to the progress being made by collaborative scientific research.
For the sake of maintaining a strong sense of unity amongst the global scientific community, Prime Minister Theresa May and the UK must mend relations between themselves and the rest of the EU so as to reduce the damage being wrought amongst British scientists, allowing them to maintain their position as the leaders of worldwide scientific innovation.