Brexit: 'near-fatal' warning for scientific endeavour

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Senior members of the Pistoia Alliance have warned that a hard Brexit could be near-fatal for scientific endeavour in Europe. 

Yesterday, a survey of more than 1,000 staff at the UK's biggest biomedical research lab, the Francis Crick Institute, showed that some 97 per cent were concerned about the future of science in the country. Just four per cent of respondents said they believed the Conservative government was committed to securing a good deal for UK science.

Furthermore, it was revealed that 29 Nobel Prize winning scientists from across Europe wrote to the UK Prime Minister Theresa May and EU President Jean-Claude Juncker, urging the 'closest possible cooperation between the UK and the EU' if and when Brexit happens.

Now the Pistoia Alliance, a global, not-for-profit alliance of life science companies, vendors, publishers, and academic groups, has warned of 'near-fatal' implications for scientific endeavour. It states that failure to reach a deal will 'stifle innovation and leave Britain severely disadvantaged'.

A statement from Sir Alasdair Breckenridge, a member of the Pistoia advisory board and former chairman of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and Steve Arlington, President, The Pistoia Alliance (pictured), reads: 'The Francis Crick Institute’s research, and letter this week from the Nobel Laureates, has exposed a critical issue facing not just science in Britain, but science around the globe. 

'A hard Brexit would be near-fatal for scientific endeavour in Europe, and the consequences would be felt even further afield. Successful research relies heavily on successful collaboration – some of the biggest breakthroughs in science have come from joint international efforts.

'It is vital that all of those involved in the pursuit of new knowledge and discovery – from the life science and pharmaceutical industry, to startups, to academic institutions, to global regulators – can continue to work together and advance research. 

'Whether it’s curing cancer, treating rare diseases, or stopping the spread of pandemics, the pooling of our knowledge is vital. We join the Francis Crick Institute and Nobel winners in urging the government to ensure scientific collaboration is a key facet of any Brexit agreement. Failure to reach a deal will stifle innovation and leave Britain severely disadvantaged, and ultimately, it will be patients across the UK who will pay the price.'