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United Kingdom EU Politics Science

Stephen Hawking and 150 Royal Society Scientists: Brexit Disaster For UK (telegraph.co.uk) 361

cold fjord writes: Steven Hawking, 150 fellows of the Royal Society (three Nobel laureates among them), and the Astronomer Royal, are warning that exit from the EU by the UK could be a disaster for science in the UK. An immediate issue would be restrictions on travel and how that would result in scientists from around the EU no longer coming to the UK to work. That would make the UK less competitive for new talent. It would also mean that scientists in the EU with grant money would be less likely to bring their research and grant money to the UK to perform their work. Switzerland is listed as an example of the resulting harm. The scientists make the point that freedom of travel for scientists is as important for science as free trade is for economies.
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Stephen Hawking and 150 Royal Society Scientists: Brexit Disaster For UK

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    FFS.

    New boss same as old boss.

  • Incentives (Score:5, Insightful)

    by butchersong ( 1222796 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:03AM (#51677417)
    So balance that out with some incentives to lure talent and research to the UK. The EU will never have the political will to get its act together and the UK similarly will not have the will to deal with the migrant crisis that will continue as long as they maintain open borders.
    • Re:Incentives (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jandersen ( 462034 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:51AM (#51677785)

      So balance that out with some incentives to lure talent and research to the UK.

      This is not about attracting talent to UK - we are pretty good at doing that already, thanks to top level scientists like Stephen Hawking, just to mention one at random. But the EU fund a lot of very important research in UK, and a lot of cooperation in research and education would not happen, or would be significantly different outside EU.

      The EU will never have the political will to get its act together and the UK similarly will not have the will to deal with the migrant crisis that will continue as long as they maintain open borders.

      Won't they? I don't know what that actually means: 'getting its act together'. As far as I can see, the purpose of EU has always been primarily to create an free trade region in Europe, and to harmonise rules and regulations in order to remove barriers to trade. You may not like the Schengen are, the Euro and the rules that are agreed in EU, but I don't think you can deny that they are demonstrations of the EU working to fulfill its purpose. What I don't like about EU is that it is not ambitious enough - we should strive for a full 'European Nation', not this free-trade++ area. I don't think any country would be in danger of losing its identity - on the contrary. Just look at how Scotland and Wales are very much not England, despite being part of Great Britain for centuries. Or look at how culturally diverse the US is; being in a close, political union clearly doesn't take away regional individuality.

      I am not personally all that bothered about whether we stay or leave; I'm sure we will survive if we leave, but there are so many issues facing us, which require wide, regional cooperation, and the number will only continue to grow for much of this century. I feel convinced that, like it not, we will have to choose joining an ever closer union with our neighbours at some point. If EU falls apart, then it will something else at some point. Plus, of course, the internet is an excellent tool for reaching out across national boundaries; nationalism won't last in this environment. It will be good when it disappears.

      • What I don't like about EU is that it is not ambitious enough - we should strive for a full 'European Nation'

        I suspect that sooner or later the stronger members of the E.U. will find themselves preventing others from secession, enforcing your new "European Nation."

        Maybe instead you shouldn't make the same mistake the U.S. made.

      • Re:Incentives (Score:5, Insightful)

        by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Friday March 11, 2016 @12:44PM (#51678345) Homepage

        The referendum needs a third option: EU MAX. We would go all in, adopt the Euro, become a major player and shape the union like Germany does.

        As you say, the EU would be much more effective if it was more federal.

        • Agreed. Actually it would be nice to have the option of voting for the status quo in the referendum, rather than just the option of a semi-detached membership (after Cameron's agreed 'reforms'), or out.
        • There is no way to become a major player in the EU - it's simply impossible. The UK routinely loses virtually all the voting positions it takes in the EU Parliament, so basically, it faces a choice between keeping its current positions and having no influence, or adopting the same positions as most of the other countries and by definition not having any influence.

          To think that the UK, which is relatively right wing, can change the basic direction most of the other countries are travelling (relatively left w

      • This is not about attracting talent to UK - we are pretty good at doing that already, thanks to top level scientists like Stephen Hawking, just to mention one at random.

        At random? Seriously? There is 150 signees of this warning, including three Nobel Prizes, which Hawking isn't, and you say you name Hawking at random? He is the only one named in the summary.

        • At random? Seriously? There is 150 signees of this warning, including three Nobel Prizes, which Hawking isn't, and you say you name Hawking at random? He is the only one named in the summary.

          Sorry, I should have chosen my words with more care - this is what we in UK call 'sarcasm', yes, it's crude, I know. It's hardly random, when the guy's name is mentioned all over the place.

    • As an American, I think the scientists are blowing this out of proportion. In US we're going to ban all Muslim scientists from entering the country, and nobody is worried about it.

    • What? The UK has neither a migrant crisis nor open borders. They stayed outside the Schengen agreement so they still have their borders manned by border control. Being an island also makes sneaking in difficult, see the Calais situation, thousands of migrants trying to get in illegally but can't.

    • > The EU will never have the political will to get its act together

      For science? Never. It's a good thing CERN built their Superconducting SuperCollider out in Texas because those losers in Switzerland would have never been able to get their thumb out long enough to build that proposed Large Hadron Collider.

      Oh. Wait... I think I got that backwards.

  • by Impy the Impiuos Imp ( 442658 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:10AM (#51677467) Journal

    Stephen Hawking's computerized voice has an American accent.

  • by iplayfast ( 166447 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:21AM (#51677543)

    From the link The two are intricately linked: if science were not a public good then there should be no tax subsidy to it. If it is a public good then it doesn’t matter who does it nor where. It’s not possible to then claim that it must have the subsidy and it must be done in Britain or by Britons. The one point precludes the other.

    It makes the assumption that if science can be done anywhere then it doesn't matter where. The article totally misses that science is a collaborative field that works by communication and working with differing mind sets. Travel makes this much easier.

    I think the article is just looking for an excuse to make some ink, and has no real thought behind it.

    • by Computershack ( 1143409 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:51AM (#51677793)

      The article totally misses that science is a collaborative field that works by communication and working with differing mind sets. Travel makes this much easier.

      So does the internet. Scientists would be high up on the list of people allowed to come to the UK so I don't see a problem. If anything being out of the EU and free to do things the EU bans, such as experimenting with GM food, the state of science could be much better in the UK being free to pursue more fields and free of the red tape being in the EU requires.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Anonymice ( 1400397 )

        But those scientists would now have to deal with the bureaucracy of visas, which is a real PITA for day-to-day business (that affects every sector).

        And yes, the UK might then be free of stupid EU regulations, but then they'd also be at risk of stupid Government regulations. The EU is the only protection citizens have against governments forcing through controversial bills - the UK's current Conservative government wanting to scrap the Human Rights Act so they can ship their bogeymen off to get tortured is o

        • You mean like how British citizens have to deal with the bureaucracy of visas when they visit America? They don't, and there's no particular reason the UK would have to make it hard for scientists to visit.

          The EU is the only protection citizens have against governments forcing through controversial bills

          This is the crux of the matter. Some people believe the EU is a better government than their own and want the UK to stay in for that exact reason - so the (relatively right wing) British government constant

          • Or do you think none of the EU legislation is "forced through" or "controversial"?

            It's a damn slight harder & requires more consensus than for a national government alone.

            One of the arguments against the EU is that it's a slow bureaucratic behemoth to get anything done, however that's also one of its upsides - a party can't just get into power & then rush to force whatever it wants on its citizens, major legislation changes will often take more than one election to get through. Something that can be quite important to calm the volatility of democracies that don't have the protect

      • "...free to do things the EU bans, such as experimenting with GM food..."

        You experiment away if you like. I'm happier with just the one head, and no fish genes.

        • by Maritz ( 1829006 )
          lol. Scared of the frankenfoods? You should try expanding your reading on it beyond the Daily Fail mate. You're already eating GM, billions would be dead without it. Kinda neatly explains your anti-EU attitude though.
      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 ) <mojo AT world3 DOT net> on Friday March 11, 2016 @12:54PM (#51678447) Homepage

        Have you ever tried to get a visa to immigrate to the UK from outside the EU? It's not at all easy, even if you meet all the requirements and have a sponsor. It's even worse if you want to bring your family.

        Realistically the UK won't opt out of freedom of movement even if it leaves the EU. There are over 2 million British people living in the EU who would be forced to apply for visas or return if we did. The flood of millions of unemployed, often retired and dependent on benefits, and in need of housing would cause some pretty severe problems.

    • The article totally misses that science is a collaborative field that works by communication and working with differing mind sets. Travel makes this much easier.

      Have you heard about this "Internet" thingy? I hear it lets scientists in different countries talk to each other, exchange documents, diagrams, and whole videos.

  • EU Funding (Score:4, Informative)

    by leathered ( 780018 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:26AM (#51677585)

    There's lots of comments on Reddit and elsewhere decrying the potential loss of EU funding for science and a multitude of other projects in the event of Brexit.

    What people seem oblivious to is where this money comes from. Governments collect money from taxpayers, which hands it over to Brussels who then take a huge cut to fund the European Commission, the EU Parliament and all of its trappings. Estimates I've seen is a 50% cut just to fund the body that does the funding.

    Surely Science would benefit more if they cut out the (extremely bloated) middleman and was funded directly by government?

    • the only % of the populace having long lasting advantages of 'free' 'trade' are the 1%-ers.

    • The logical conclusion of your argument is to cut out the middleman you left in place by eliminating the government and funding scientists directly.

      • In an ideal world, yes; but someone has to collect the taxes and decide where the money goes. My problem is having that money go through two governments, one of which is the grossly inefficient, if not borderline corrupt EU.

    • Re:EU Funding (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Xylantiel ( 177496 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @12:15PM (#51677993)
      The piece of information that you are missing is that the UK has already gutted its internal research funding. The UK government is not going to suddenly become more friendly to science funding even if the need to pay the EU goes away. As far as I know, one of the few good sources of academic research funding in the UK currently is from the EU.
      • Lack of government funding should be a matter for parliament and the electorate. We can use our vote and lobby MPs and civil servants. If the EU dropped funding for a project would you have the same influence? Would you even know who to write to?

      • One of the biggest problems that Americans face when talking about stripping power from our Federal government is that people forget that they can do things locally. It is a bizarre form of mental atrophy.

        If the UK is currently sending $100 to the EU for science, and getting $50 back, or $60 or whatever, there are two options on what to do after quitting the EU.

        Option one, the one you seem to be advocating, is to stand around whining that you don't know how to spend money on science.

        Option two is to rebuil

    • Re:EU Funding (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Coisiche ( 2000870 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @12:15PM (#51678011)

      Problem is that the funding via the EU probably goes where it is needed. If the government didn't have EU contributions then they wouldn't give more to science funding and you're deluded if you think that it might. They also wouldn't use it to end austerity or increase NHS funding or anything that might be of benefit to the majority of people. It will be used to line the pockets of a select few and nothing more.

    • What people seem oblivious to is where this money comes from.

      Oh, that's easy . . . Germany. Just google on "EU paymaster".

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      The UK gets more out than it puts in. Even if we diverted all that money back into science, which we won't, it would still be less than we get now.

      https://royalsociety.org/topic... [royalsociety.org]

  • by MindPrison ( 864299 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:32AM (#51677635) Journal
    Brexit is a fad. It's even a FUD. It's all about the people not feeling they're getting the benefits out of what they'd hoped EU would be. I understand UK perfectly, they're on the giving end of EU, they're the ones that have to take the fall for Europes refugees (pretty much like Sweden, but on a bigger scale) and they're the ones with the most generous benefit rules and regulations. The thing is...that's not EU's fault, that's Britain on Benefits Fault, not EU as such. Cameron is right.

    UK is important, very important, unfortunately they're not treated as such per generosity, so they need to do this to set an example. I hope you follow me so far. I'm in Sweden (but born Norwegian as if it had anything to do with it)...
    • by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:45AM (#51677741)
      Despite what some people will make you think, the UK has only agreed to take 20k Syrian refugees and has only taken the first tranche of those, a tiny fraction of what other European countries are taking. Compare that to a million on Germany or the immediate countries next to Syria who have taken on a third extra in terms of their total population.
    • I understand UK perfectly, they're on the giving end of EU, they're the ones that have to take the fall for Europes refugees

      Nope, they take almost no refugees at all

      and they're the ones with the most generous benefit rules and regulations.

      What? Are you dreaming? They have nowhere near the most generous benefits.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Archtech ( 159117 )

      Brexit is a fad. It's even a FUD. It's all about the people not feeling they're getting the benefits out of what they'd hoped EU would be.

      No, that's quite wrong. It's mostly about the people noticing that their country is about to be one more brick cemented into a wall - a political union. And the whole thing is being run by some people who are very unpleasant, or very stupid (conceivably both). In the 1975 referendum I voted for the UK to be a member of the EU, and I recall very well what I expected. It was that Europe would become a single community in some senses, but governed democratically along the lines of the UK, France or Germany. In

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Some of us like the EU. The problem with having the referendum now is that the average idiot on the street will vote based on temporary issues like the migrant crisis and outright lies like the classic "straight bananas".

        The BBC should produce a series explaining how the EU works and what it actually does. At least then the result wouldn't be based mostly on ignorance.

      • by norite ( 552330 )

        So tell me, how's that unelected, undemocratic, unaccountable House of Lords doing for you?

        And did you vote for an MEP at the last European election? The commissioners (the UK has two) are appointed by the democratically elected Prime Minister, btw...

      • While I agree that the EU has some real problems, I think what this is more about is that the 1%ers in the UK don't like the fact that they don't totally control politics because of EU rules and that the EU (more specifically EU courts) keep stepping in and stopping them stomping over ordinary citizens.

        Yes, the UK does pay into the EU. But what's the net payment? It's much lower. If the UK goes Brexit, the UK will still have to follow many EU rules in order to trade with EU countries, but will have no influ

    • they're the ones that have to take the fall for Europes refugees

      When it comes to asylum seekers per capita, we get...

      http://ichef.bbci.co.uk/news/6... [bbci.co.uk]

      Ok look, we're in position 22 of 33 with something like one thirtieth of the rate of the worst affected country, and comfortably below the average. As a proportion of population, Sweden have to deal with far more refugees.

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/worl... [bbc.co.uk]

      Actually it looks like we've even taken half the absolute, unscaled numbers.

      We are part of Europe, and comp

    • by Alioth ( 221270 )

      The UK is not the biggest recipient of refugees by a long shot. Greece is taking the brunt of it, as is Germany.

      The ones trying to get to the UK will get to the UK easier if brexit happens - because the French might not care so much who is *leaving* their country, and potentially with UK Border Agency no longer present in France, there will be more non-EU immigrants getting into the UK illegally.

  • from Worstall. Yes, science's products are a public good, but doing science is not that same as having access to the results. Otherwise a lot of countries would be benefitting significantly from it which clearly are not. Just having scientists coming from other places and scientists returning from other places and live in the UK has a huge intangible benefit. Reading about an idea from elsewhere isn't at all the same as working with a person who hatched or worked with those who hatched the idea elsewhere.

    Wo

  • by Dcnjoe60 ( 682885 ) on Friday March 11, 2016 @11:59AM (#51677853)

    The USA is not part of the EU and our scientists don't seem to have a problem traveling to and from the UK (with the exception of cost). Why would it be different for an EU country unless one is assuming that the other EU countries will make it difficult out of retaliation. But, that has as much potential to harm them as it would the UK.

    I have great respect for Hawkings and the scientific community, but their expertise is in the various scientific fields they represent, not geo-politics or other areas they like to delve into (like meta-physics and theology). Yes, they are smart, but simply being smart does not make one correct in fields they are not experts in.

    As for the retaliation, we won't know if that would be the case until the UK actually left the EU. Kind of like the status of a certain cat in a box.

    • I have great respect for Hawkings

      Then would it kill ya to get his name right?

      • I have great respect for Hawkings

        Then would it kill ya to get his name right?

        I originally was typing "I have great respect for Hawking's opinion" and in editing to the current version inadvertently left the "s" sorry if it offending anybody.

  • Hawking opining on a political structure is pretty much the same as talented musician opining on a Standard Model changes. Both are not competent outside their area of expertise.

    If you look into the history, the only thing that is constant is the fact that political and economic alliances are formed and later dismantled.

    • So a guy who has noticed that easy border transits make his job easier than difficult border transits isn't qualified to say that changing from easy transit to difficult transit will make his job harder?
      • by Z00L00K ( 682162 )

        I don't think there will be a difference in border transits.

        The key factor here is that EU is more like a kindergarten for laid-off politicians that are promoted up to the left. Unfortunately they have ended up in a pretty dangerous position for most citizens of Europe since they make decision about things that the lobbyists pushes for.

  • If Britain drops the EU, then they can become a Schengen country (if the others agree) or adopt Schengen like rules and make agreements as needed. Add that to custom tailored rules that incentivize the talent they need and want coming to Britain and they could adopt rules like Australia with benefits for those immigrating with needed skillets and "discouraging" others from permanent immigration. The EU is not the pinnacle of European governmental success. It is an experiment with socialism on a wide scale i

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