International chemistry survey reveals scale of Brexit concern
- 72% of respondents say ‘no deal’ will be very negative for UK science
- Despite parliament’s vote against ‘no deal’ a significant risk remains
- Only 4% of 5,800 respondents expect positive impact on sector
A major new survey commissioned by the Royal Society of Chemistry has revealed the full extent of concerns in the sector about a no-deal Brexit.
Although parliament has rejected a ‘no-deal’ exit from the EU, there is still a great deal of uncertainty and little time to reach an agreement that will avoid the legal default of departure on 29 March.
Threat to science and innovation
The society questioned 5,800 chemistry professionals from across the UK, EU and beyond, with the results providing the clearest evidence yet that the change would be potentially catastrophic for science and innovation in the UK.
Chemistry is worth £50bn to the UK economy, but a Bank of England report last year said the sector’s output would drop by 35% – the equivalent of a hit of £17.5bn to the economy. This would make it one of the hardest hit sectors by a no-deal scenario.
A sobering reminder
Tanya Sheridan, Policy and Evidence Manager at the Royal Society of Chemistry, said: "While parliament has voted against leaving the EU without a deal, the government now only has a matter of days to make this a reality and avoid crashing out. It is absolutely crucial for the chemical sciences and the hundreds of thousands working in industry and academia who feel they are being hung out to dry over this uncertainty.
"For 72% of respondents to say a No Deal Brexit would be ‘very negative’ should be a sobering reminder for government about the potential impacts this could have on UK science and innovation.
"It is vital the government ensures a good deal for science and innovation that supports jobs and allows both academia and industry to maintain the UK’s world-leading position. No-deal is not an option for the chemical sciences."
Key concerns raised by survey respondents, including those based in the UK, were access to international facilities, international collaborative networks, funding for fundamental, curiosity-driven research and easy movement for skilled scientists.
Further concerns include the impact a new visa requirement would be on attracting talent to the UK for science and innovation – with 71% saying there would be a negative impact.
Other findings include:
- Only 4% thought a No Deal Brexit would have a positive impact on the sector.
- 84% said freedom of movement had had a positive impact on science and innovation
- 75% believe European programmes have had a positive impact on science and innovation.
The location of survey respondents was:
- Asia – 236 (4%)
- Europe – 1437 (25%)
- ROW – 219 (4%)
- UK & Ireland – 3638 (63%)
- US & Canada – 212 (4%)
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