Prime Minister wants UK to have a ‘deep science partnership with the EU’

21 May 2018

The Prime Minister today gave a major speech on the Government’s Industrial Strategy and investment in science and research in which she spoke about keeping the UK ‘at the forefront of new technologies and the benefits they bring’.

In the speech the Prime Minister spoke of the world standing ‘at the threshold of a new technological age as exciting as any in our past’ and she said that the UK’s global leadership in science and innovation was one of this country's greatest assets.

The speech also offered further clarification on the Government’s goals in relation to research after the UK leaves the EU.

On the Brexit plans, Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society responded:

“The Prime Minister’s reaffirmed commitment to continued close cooperation with European research, after we leave the EU, is very welcome.  She has recognised the importance to the UK and Europe of the flow of highly skilled researchers and said she will ensure that our research workforce remains international.  This flow of people and ideas has long been a big part of what makes the UK so good at science.

“In the upcoming white paper on migration we must ensure that we create an immigration system that promotes the international movement of practicing scientists.”

“Saying that we want the option to fully associate with EU research programmes is also welcome, as is the stated willingness to pay our way.  UK expertise has been integral to the development and implementation of EU research programmes and all sides in the negotiations recognise that the next will be better and deliver more for everyone, if we continue to work together.  There will still be much to negotiate but the UK should be involved in all aspects of the progamme. The sooner our involvement can be confirmed, the sooner scientists across Europe can put politics to one side and get on with shaping the science that will improve lives.

“The research community will remain anxious about the potential damage Brexit could do to UK and International science until a deal is struck but today’s speech clearly shows that the UK Government understands what is at stake.”

On plans to develop AI for the early diagnosis of cancers and chronic disease, the President said:

“Science and technology are key to not only improving our lives but also to driving economic growth. The vision the Prime Minister is setting out will build on the strengths of the UK's world leading research in AI and digital technology.

“Artificial Intelligence when combined with data from the NHS and other health devices offers great potential for improving lives. It can also benefit other areas such as education. At the same time, the strong and rational regulatory environment of the UK can help ensure that there are appropriate safeguards and also ensure that everyone can benefit.”

Find out more about the Royal Society's work on Brexit and UK science.