The EU referendum is almost a week away. On 23rd June the UK public will decide the fate of our nation. Thus far the referendum has been a farcical show of over blown, often bogus facts, belligerent argument, diversion, dishonesty and occasionally thinly veiled xenophobia. For anyone interested in impartial comments and facts I would recommend FullFact. FullFact are an independent fact checking organisation, who have done an amazing job over the years of clearing up the fog that politicians put into the political debate.
I personally think we should stay in the EU, flawed as it is. The risks of leaving are varied, great and many. However, science potentially has the most to lose. Since the recession funding for science has been decreasing due to the austerity led funding cuts brought in by the coalition and Tory governments. The EU is a huge source of funding for British science. Our universities benefit greatly from this money and also the free movement of people within the EU. Sure there are lots of barriers to non-EU researchers coming to the UK, and that is detrimental to our research, but these barriers are imposed by the British government and not the EU. Between 2007 and 2013 the UK was a net beneficiary of £2.7bn in research funding from the EU (receiving £7bn but giving £4.3bn). If we leave the EU there is no guarantee that any government will match the money currently funding UK research, with a Tory government likely to gain a consecutive term funding cuts would be my prediction. At a time when science is arguably more crucial industrial innovation and the economy as a whole, it seems ridiculous to roll the dice and risk losing this type of funding.
I decided to sign this letter from Scientists for EU as a sign of my commitment to staying in the EU for the benefit of UK science.
If you want to read more then I recommend the Royal Societies report on UK Research and the European Union: https://royalsociety.org/topics-policy/projects/uk-research-and-european-union/