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expert reaction to Parliament’s vote on Brexit

Reactions to Parliament’s meaningful vote on the Brexit deal.

Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, said:

“With Parliament having rejected the Prime Minister’s deal the UK is moving ever closer to exiting the EU without a deal. On behalf of medical research charities and the patients they represent, I must reiterate the sector’s grave concerns about the damaging impact of a no-deal Brexit on patients and medical research. 

A no-deal Brexit scenario is unacceptable. It would risk patient safety and jeopardise pioneering medical research in the UK.

In a no-deal Brexit, patient access to existing and new medicines as well as opportunities to take part in innovative clinical trials would be at risk. From day one of a no-deal Brexit, delays at borders would impact supply of medicines with the need to enact robust, but inherently risky, contingency plans.

The impact on the UK’s world-leading medical research base would also be profound. Collectively, members of the Association of Medical Research Charities fund almost half of all publicly funded medical research nationally as well as over 17,000 researchers. A no-deal Brexit could irreversibly damage our relationship with our most important research partner.

The damaging implications of a no-deal Brexit on patients and medical research must be clear and understood. With time running out we hope a solution can be found to the current stalemate which ensures no damaging impact on patients.”

Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, says:

“Yesterday’s unprecedented vote makes the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal even more likely. A no deal Brexit would be a disaster for British science and innovation and I urge our elected representatives to put the interests of the country first and get a new plan to prevent this catastrophic outcome.”

 Professor Sir Robert Lechler PMedSci, President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, said:

 “In light of today’s vote to reject the Prime Minister’s deal, I am at pains to once again stress that leaving the EU without a deal is a grave threat to biomedical research and the patients and public who rely on our currently collaborative and world-class science.

“This isn’t speculation, no deal would lead to serious negative impacts for medical research, including the disruption to productive collaborations, lost access to funding, barriers to clinical trials and research into rare diseases, and a diminution in our ability to attract and retain researchers to the UK.

“It is somewhat encouraging to see that over the last week MPs have shown that Parliament will not support a “no deal” Brexit. But, time is running out and I urge Parliamentarians to have the need for a good outcome for science and medical research at the forefront of their minds in the coming days and weeks.”

Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, says:

“Following the vote, it’s critical that government does everything in its power to avoid a no-deal Brexit. Our scientists unanimously agree that no-deal would be a disaster.”

“International collaboration is crucial to modern science, and the UK has particularly close research links with the EU. For British science to hold onto its world-leading position after Brexit, scientists must be able to move easily across Europe, participate fully in EU programmes and work seamlessly with partners across the channel. The best way to do this would be to remain in the EU but, if we must leave, we urgently need a deal to provide certainty in these areas.

“The Crick is prepared for the short-term impacts of no-deal. We are covering the costs of the EU settlement scheme for our European staff and their families, who make up 40% of our scientific workforce, and we have measures in place to ensure that our science can continue uninterrupted if our supply chain is disrupted.

“However, the long-term impact of no-deal on science and society would set back scientific progress significantly. We need a deal that not only allows the best scientists to come and work here but also encourages them to stay and makes them feel welcome. While the Crick is still attracting world class scientists in spite of Brexit, we are beginning to see European scientists planning to return to their home countries after they finish their PhDs or postdocs at the Crick.”

*Case studies of researchers planning to leave the UK for their next position are available

Declared interests

The nature of this story means everyone quoted above could be perceived to have a stake in it.  So we did not ask for interests to be declared, as they are implicit in the affiliations.

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