Dr Julia Reid MEP has welcomed an article written by Dr Christopher Leigh, of Scientists for Britain, in which Dr Leigh wrote that science in the UK would continue to reach for the stars outside of the EU.
In his article, published online by Civitas, Dr Leigh, states: “Despite our strong global standing, the announcement of a referendum on our future relationship of the EU seems to have generated some concern amongst pro-EU commentators that our scientific community is less robust than it appears, and that leaving the political structures of the EU would have an unduly adverse impact on UK science.
“I would like to set out the reasons why I believe those concerns are misplaced, and why I’m confident that the UK science sector will continue to thrive and outperform in the event that the British electorate decides that our futures lies outside the political structures of the EU project.
“…The simple fact is that the EU supports just three per cent of UK research and development activity, as was confirmed by a recent Royal Society report: The role of the EU in funding UK research (December 2015).
“Furthermore, confirmation comes from 2014 OECD figures which estimate that the 28 EU nations invested $363bn in research and development, whereas the EU contribution came in at $10.5bn. In other words 97 per cent of European R & D occurs outside of EU science networks.
“Of course, if the UK did vote to leave the EU project, then a small fraction of the savings made on our annual contribution to the EU budget could be used to plug any funding gap following Brexit, or indeed, used to fund our continued participation in the European Research Area (ERA) as an associate member.”
Dr Leigh, continues by debunking claims that leaving the EU would damage academic freedom of movement.
He said: “As scientists we fully recognise the importance of researchers and academics being able to travel between countries for the purposes of research and collaboration.
“However, we refute the suggestion that free movement of scientists is in any way contingent on being part of a political union.”
Citing research by Franzoni, Scellato et al (2012), he added: “Independent countries with strict immigration controls, such as Australia, Canada and the USA, recruit a greater percentage of foreign researchers than the UK, France and Germany.
“The research also reveals that the primary destination for UK trained scientists is not the EU, as some would have you believe, but the USA, Australia and Canada – none of which we have a free movement agreement with.
“For EU supporters to suggest that the UK would not be able to recruit scientists as an independent nation thus flies in the face of hard evidence to the contrary.”
Commenting on Prof Leigh’s observations, UKIP national Science Spokesperson Dr Julia Reid, said: “Project Fear continues to send out scare stories in a desperate attempt deceive the public into staying in the EU.
“They are using deception as a tool to hoodwink the public when the campaign for Brexit presents a positive, fact-based case for why we should leave the European Union.
“Before the UK joined what was then the Common Market there was always free movement of scientists, not just in Europe, but across the world.
“We are a major global force in scientific research and seven out of the top ten European universities are in the UK. It is our excellence in science and research that will continue to attract further investment in scientific research into this country.
“Project Fear is the isolationist not the Brexiteers who are painted as Little Englanders despite the fact that it is the staying in campaign that paint a pessimistic picture of Britain outside of the EU.
“We believe Britain can be stronger, better, freer and more competitive outside of the shackles of the EU.”