Universities needn’t fear a no-deal Brexit
In their political intervention, the Russell Group and other university organisations are confusing the constitutionally damaging withdrawal agreement, which must be voted down, with the future partnership, which is yet to be agreed (Universities sector fears ‘biggest threat’ of no-deal exit, 4 January). British universities are the strongest and most attractive in Europe. With a clean sovereign Brexit, British universities get the best of both worlds. They escape the European commission’s shackles imposed through the withdrawal agreement and, like other successful third-party countries (Israel, Norway and Switzerland, for example), can participate in EU programmes like Horizon 2020 at will.
Now is the moment to tell the EU that the UK will be a close partner in academic research in the same way as 15 non-EU nation states are at present and that the UK will pay its way, as we did before. This is a win-win situation which does not require the UK to surrender sovereignty or accept destructive conditions.
The idea that whole countries should be forced into political servitude in order to qualify for academic or scientific mutual exchange is ridiculous, illogical and completely without evidence. No country has ever had to accept this from the EU before. The first major act of the May government was to pledge to support a Swiss-style payment into mutual academic research programmes, which answers the Russell Group’s funding complaints. In content and timing, the university organisations’ letter to MPs has “Project Fear” Mark IV’s fingerprints all over it. It should be seen for what it is and ignored.
Baroness Deech , Prof Nigel Biggar
University of Oxford, Dr Philip Cunliffe University of Kent, Prof Angus
Dalgleish St George’s, University of London, Dr Graham Gudgin University of Cambridge, Prof Rudolf Hanka
University of Cambridge and 10 others
(see gu.com/letters for full list)