Renowned physicist Stephen Hawking has come out in favor of the UK staying in European Union and has warned that Brexit could be a “disaster for UK science”.
The Cambridge professor led more then 150 fellows of the Royal Society to support the campaign for the UK to stay in the EU.
The Royal Society, with 1,600 fellows and foreign members, is the leading scientific institution in the UK.
Royal Society argues that Brexit would negatively impact research in the UK because lots of scientists are now being recruited from Europe.
“First, increased funding has raised greatly the level of European science as a whole and of the UK in particular because we have a competitive edge.”
the scientists wrote in a letter to The Times.
“Second, 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.”
“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.”
The signatories – including three Nobel laureates – suggest that the UK and science as a whole have benefited from increased funding from the EU.
The letter was organized by University of Cambridge professor Sir Alan Fersht who specializes in protein science.
The scientists give example of Switzerland, which has limited access to funds, despite paying in to the EU. They argue that the country has failed to attract talented youths from the Europe because of freedom of movement restrictions.
“Switzerland pays into the EU and was a popular destination for young scientists. It now has limited access to EU funds because it voted to restrict the free movement of workers, and is desperately trying to find alternative ways to attract young talent.”
The group says exit of the UK from EU and “loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe” would be a disaster for UK science and universities.
Scientists think “investment in science” is as important as “investment in infrastructure projects, farming or manufacturing” for the long-term development, security and prosperity of the country. Similarly, free movement of scientists is vital for the growth of science, as free trade is important for market economics.
The news comes as the editor of the Sun newspaper Tony Gallagher stood by his claims the Queen backed Brexit. On Tuesday, the Sun had published an article claiming that “the Queen backed Brexit.” On Wednesday, Buckingham Palace complained to the press watchdog about the story, while insisting that the Queen is “politically neutral”.
According to the BBC, the Sun’s editor-in-chief has no doubt that the newspaper’s article is accurate, and that the report reflected views of the Queen.
The Sun, in its article, had quoted an anonymous source who witnessed a “bust-up” between the Queen and pro-EU former Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg in 2011.
Mr Clegg described the story as “nonsense”, saying he could not remember any such incident.