UK scientists hope for softened Brexit after shock election result

Nature 9 June 2017
The United Kingdom’s general election on 8 June produced no clear outcome — but scientists trying to divine meaning from the chaos hope that the result will ultimately benefit their nation’s research ties with the European Union.

“The result may provide hope that a hard Brexit can’t be pursued with such vigour as before,” says Anne Glover, a biologist at the University of Aberdeen, UK, who was formerly the European Commission’s chief scientific adviser. “The optimist in me hopes that the hung parliament we seem to have at this stage might end in a rethink on Brexit, perhaps a delay,” she says. “If Brexit is pursued, research needs the closest possible deal we have to the one we have now.”

Senior Conservatives say that the result could weaken the United Kingdom’s hand in negotiations with the EU, which were set to begin on 19 June. “We had an evidence-free EU referendum, and now we have a negotiating party who, by their own admission, think their negotiating position has been weakened,” says Glover. “Not much cause for celebration — the future of research in the UK is still in a mess.”

By Elizabeth Gibney

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