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Norwich scientists urge local MPs to back People’s Vote

07.12.18

A large number of researchers in Norwich have signed and sent a letter to the nine Members of Parliament for the Norwich and Norfolk region, highlighting their concerns about the prospect of Brexit.

At the time of writing, the letter has been signed by 246 scientists from three of the Research Institutes on the Norwich Research Park.

The letter highlights the disadvantages of the current deal that has been negotiated by the UK government with the European Union, and how this will damage the ability of the Norwich Research Park to recruit and retain the international talent that it needs to remain at the forefront of scientific discovery.

The letter also points to the even more serious consequences of a no-deal Brexit, which would lead to huge disruption in international trade and widespread chaos. Importantly, it would also see the UK crashing out of scientific collaborative programmes funded by the European Commission, including the highly prestigious European Research Council (ERC) which awards grants to Europe’s very top researchers.

Scientists across the Norwich Research Park have won substantial European funding, which reflects the quality of science carried out in Norwich.  Importantly, many of the scientists holding this funding are international scientists who have moved to Norwich because of its vibrant research culture and the high quality of its scientific institutions.

Speaking about the letter, one of the organising signatories, TSL Executive Director, Professor Nick Talbot said “Norwich is a world-leading research centre that has attracted some of the finest minds from across the world, including many from European Union countries.  The prospect of Brexit has deeply unsettled many staff and students, not only those from Europe, but all of our international scientists.  They have made their homes in the UK because it has a friendly, open and inclusive society where science is valued.  Their confidence in this has been shaken and Brexit will lead to many staff leaving. We can already see the effect in recruitment.”

The Norwich Research Park contributes hugely to the economy of Norwich.  Some 3,000 scientists work on the site, making it one of the largest scientific centres anywhere.  Recently, 10 scientists from Norwich were named on a list of the world’s most influential scientists, consistently publishing papers in the top 1% most highly cited studies.

Professor Talbot added “Many of our staff feel really strongly about Brexit, which they view as the wrong choice for the UK.  Science is an international endeavour and raising barriers to movement of scientists at any level will harm discovery and the economic benefits that come from science. Job creation across Norfolk during the next century will depend on the knowledge economy and scientific discoveries made now are absolutely key to this region’s future prosperity”.