Anti-Brexit group argues EU membership is essential for UK’s science base

Several leading scientists have voiced their support for a campaign for the UK to stay in the EU, warning that an exit would harm the country’s research base.

The Scientists for EU advocacy group began as a campaign on social media which was set up by Mike Galsworthy, a research policy specialist and researcher at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and Rob Davidson, a data scientist for the online journal Gigascience. The pair set up the group the day after the Conservatives won the UK general election, confirming that a referendum on the country’s EU membership would go ahead.

‘It is not sufficiently known to the public that the EU is a boon to UK science and innovation,’ the group wrote earlier this year in an open letter to the Times newspaper, which was signed by several leading scientists. ‘Freedom of movement for talent and ambitious EU science funding programmes, which support vital complex international collaborations, put the UK in a world-leading position.’ If the country were to leave the EU, the group argues, UK science would suffer.

Since being set up, the campaign has attracted thousands of supporters on Facebook and Twitter. Last week it officially launched with an advisory board comprising high-profile UK scientists, including former EU chief scientific advisor Anne Glover, and MPs from different political parties.

Scientists for EU will work with other groups to campaign for the UK’s continued membership of the EU by ‘communicating the current and future benefits of the EU to the UK via its impact on our science capacity’.