Barbara Keeley MP


Access to EU Research Programmes

I appreciate the concerns that have been raised about access to EU research programmes following the UK's exit from the EU. The UK enjoys a world-leading position in research and development. This position is thanks in part to our integration with, and the contribution of, our partners in the EU. It is therefore at risk if the Conservative Government does not support science through Brexit.

The Government has a duty to address the numerous challenges that leaving the EU presents to our science and research sectors. I am concerned that, as the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee reported in November 2016, the Government has failed to communicate its Brexit and science strategy effectively.

While science is at the heart of our economy, it does not appear to be at the heart of the Conservative Government's plans for leaving the EU. For example, while the Government has committed to underwriting EU research funding for projects that continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU, it has not committed to participation in EU research programmes beyond 2020.

Our continued involvement in EU research programmes is crucial and losing access to them would undermine collaboration, funding and the UK's world-leading position in science. I will be supporting an amendment to the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill which gives the Prime Minister the power to notify the EU of the UK's withdrawal. This amendment would require the Prime Minister to consider the public interest in continued cooperation with the EU in science and research during Brexit negotiations.

I also believe that we should guarantee the status of EU nationals already living in the UK, which would end the uncertainty for the more than 15% of UK university staff who come from other EU countries. We should also aim for an immigration settlement that helps to attract the best and brightest in science and research to the UK. We also need to invest properly in research and development as the Government's recent increase in spending is welcome, but does not go nearly far enough.

I will continue to press the Conservative Government to maintain the UK's position as a world leader in science as we leave the EU.

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