Brexit – In Or Out?

Brexit-Whos-In-Whos-OutQuestion: Is Prof. Stephen Hawking for staying in Europe or for getting out?

Answer: Staying in.

No doubt the vote on the “Brexit” in June this year is not uppermost in the minds of your teenage children but it is likely to affect them in ways that they haven’t yet considered.  Without boring them too much, it might be a good idea to discuss some of the general pros and cons put forward by the scientific community.

The Royal Society is the most influential scientific society in Britain, so when 150 of its fellows write a letter to the Times we ought to at least give some consideration to what they have to say.  They unequivocally believe that we ought to stay in Europe and the principal reason they give is that it encourages co-operation amongst scientists.

We are well-used to hearing how close co-operation amongst countries benefits industry and financial institutions but I must confess that I had not considered it in relation to science.  Now that these authoritative scientific individuals have pointed it out, I see their point.  By combining the expertise from many scientists from many different countries it seems sensible to assume that more can be achieved.  The whole is greater than the sum of the parts and all that.

The people at the Royal Society tell us that the EU has provided the perfect platform to encourage scientists to work together and they have been prepared to facilitate co-operation by pouring mega millions into it.  According to the 150 fellows it would “Devastate” research if we come out.

Unfortunately, nothing with the Brexit is straight-forward and certainly nothing is cut-and-dried…

Opposing the view of Prof. Hawking we have “Scientists for Britain”.  Whether you agree with them or not you have to give them credit for putting together an extremely informative website in double-quick time.

A spokesman for Scientists for Britain is Pro. Angus Dalgleish of St George’s Hospital, University of London and he argues that the scientists at the Royal Society have got it all wrong.  His view is that “we put far more into Europe than we get out”.

An article on the above website suggests that during 2007-20013 only 3% of UK research and development was funded by the EU.  Another article points out that several non-EU countries currently participate in EU science and there is nothing to suggest that co-operation between countries will cease if we vote to leave.

All of which sounds very reminiscent of the current spate between David Cameron and Boris Johnson.  It seems that the EU is the unequalled master of tearing apart people in the same team.

If nothing else, the in-fighting that is gathering pace will make for some entertaining adult debates during the next 3 months and that in turn might be enough to convince our teenagers that politics isn’t always boring!

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