LibLink: Julian Huppert If you’re pro-science, you should be pro EU

There’s not enough Julian in these parts these days, sadly. In May just under 700 votes kept him from continuing as MP for Cambridge and one of the Commons’ few scientific experts. Today, though, he’s written for the Guardian’s Science column, saying that if you are pro-science, you really need to vote to remain in the EU.

Cambridge is massively pro-EU, for many reasons, but he highlights one in particular

The answer I think lies in another special feature of Cambridge: its world leadership in science and technology. We see this in the huge number of Nobel Prizes amassed here, 92 and rising; biomedical success, such as Humira, the Cambridge-developed anti-inflammatory drug that is currently the highest-selling prescription drug in the world; and technology leadership, such as the silicon chips designed by ARM, which now power almost every mobile device in the world. Last year there was as many ARM chips shipped, as there are human arms in the world.

All of this success, from pure research to the most applied technology, from huge global companies to tiny start-ups, benefits from our international connections, and particularly our role in the EU. We get large amounts of funding from the European Research Council – well above our expected share. Overall, about a quarter of the University of Cambridge’s research funding comes from the EU. Our students go on Erasmus exchanges, experiencing life and study elsewhere, and we get many students coming here from around the EU, benefiting from the free movement of people, enriching our cultural, academic and social lives – and spending their money in our city.

It’s not just Cambridge who benefits, though:

If we left the EU, the same factors that would hurt Cambridge science, technology and prosperity, would hit the rest of the country too. We are more directly affected here than some – but leaving the EU would have damaging effects across the country. Less support for science and innovation, tougher markets to try to sell to, more trouble getting the right skilled people for key jobs. None of this is good news for businesses of any size here in the UK. The risk of leaving is huge.

He concludes with what he describes as a “chilling’ moment at a recent UKIP debate:

In summing up, I asked rhetorically what the audience would put at risk to leave the EU. They shouted back ‘Everything’.

Science needs people who won’t risk everything on a dogmatic ideology. Britain needs that too, and Britain needs to stay in the EU.

You can read the whole article here.

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  • It is strange that Julian Huppert seems to imply that Nobel prizes depend upon being in the European Union – 50 of such awards were made to Cambridge before the UK belonged to the EU.

    And, if the UK were to leave the EU there would be no reason for not having a continued involvement in Erasmus-type student exchanges – Iceland and Norway are involved.

    It also seems sloppy for Mr Huppert to describe those, who wish to return democracy to its previous self-determined state, as being guilty of a “dogmatic ideology” – I can think of no good reason to cling on to a corporatist and anti-democratic EU state, other than that of clinging to a blind and dogmatic ideology.

  • “We get large amounts of funding from the European Research Council”
    And all of it, is our own UK tax money, recycled back to us. It is not an EU gift as you try to imply. In fact the very notion of *EU funding*, is a not so very clever Brussels sleight of hand.
    Just imagine what we can do with the money we save by not being forced to pay a £19 billion per year EU membership. Face reality, the EU needs us [and our money !], far far more than we need their overbearing undemocratic bureaucracy?

  • I must admit, having thought long and hard about it, I don’t believe the UK should be part of the EU anymore, I no longer think being a part of the EU is in our national interest, but there was a time I was very pro EU.

    The main reason for this is the EU seems to work for the benefit of big business and not for most people.

    For example, the free movement of people (especially since Poland joined) has given business a larger market to sell to and an increased flexible labour force, but it has given workers at the bottom even more people who will do the job for less to compete with and driven down their wages.

    It has given landlords increasing asset values and more tennets and given those at the bottom out of control rents and less chance of getting social housing.

    if this had been managed differently then perhaps the net benefits would outweigh these costs, but after the way this was managed, I can honestly say I don’t believe they do. I think we’re better off out.

    If the EU had not expanded into Eastern Europe I’m sure it would be different. When you get free movement of people, complete with access to state benefits between countries with vastly different economic strengths the immigration tends to be one way and of course the poor country also suffers too as its stripped of its labour force.

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