The moderating force of a hung UK parliament could be good for science, says CaSE’s executive director Dr Sarah Main.
Head of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE), Main said: “The prospect of a minority government yielding a softer Brexit is likely to appeal to science leaders who have been pushing to retain a range of EU benefits.
“Parliament will need to work together to deliver confidence, [and] to support scientific businesses and academia in delivering benefits to the economy and society.”
Main said that investment in research and development (R&D) has cross-party policy support which would underpin its effectiveness, but added that Conservative Party policies to reduce migration to tens of thousands could be problematic for the industry, coupled with a loss of access to EU research networks, such as Horizon 2020, and disruption to scientific trial and trade regulations.
Main adds that a Conservative minority government, the DUP’s insistence on a soft Brexit, Labour’s pledge for ‘fair rules and reasonable management’ of the migration system, and the Lib Dem’s commitment to ‘retain access’ to EU research and design programmes, could benefit science and maximise government investment in R&D.
CaSE has also published its vision for UK science and engineering, outlining six priority areas for the new government: education, immigration, collaboration, investment, regulation and evidence.
Extending upon these policies, Main said: “The Conservatives have pledged to increase investment in R&D to 2.4% of GDP over ten years, doubling the science budget. This could transform the UK’s productivity and competitiveness in the world and deliver great benefits to Britons’ wellbeing and prosperity … [but] will only deliver these benefits if it is supported by domestic policies and Brexit negotiation priorities that align on education, migration, collaboration and regulation.”