Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, has voiced his opinion that a British exit from the European Union could damage the future progress of UK Science
Speaking at the Campaign for Science and Engineering, the Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson, questioned how the UK would continue to prosper outside of the EU, considering this is where half of its collaborations are based.
“No one doubts that Britain could stay a science player outside the EU,” Mr Johnson pointed out. “But the risks to valuable institution partnerships, to flows of bright students, and to a rich source of science funding mean that the leave campaign has serious questions to answer.”
Successfully finding research funding outside of the EU is not unheard of, however, as proven by Norway, Turkey and Israel.
This argument was acknowledged by Mr Johnson in his speech, stating that although “non-EU countries may be part of the European research area…but they don’t get a seat at the table when the ministerial council or the parliament are setting the rules, or deciding the budgets.”
These comments are seemingly against the views of Sajid Javid, current Business Secretary and Mr Johnson’s superior, who recently stated that although EU membership funds were useful for UK science, he doubted that they were of significance in the overall EU dispute.
This has led many to believe that there is a divide in the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills. Mr Javid has refuted claims that there is a disagreement between the pair. His vote in the upcoming referendum, thought to be taking place in either June or September this year, remains unknown.
Mr Johnson reasoned that “free movement of people makes it easier for our universities to attract the best talent, and for British students to spread their wings across the Continent, as I was able to do as a young student at institutions in France and Belgium.