UKIP's Science Spokesman Dr Julia Reid MEP, who is a research biochemist by profession, has dismissed as scaremongering a round robin letter from Stephen Hawking and 150 academics about the impact on scientific research in the UK of a 'Leave' vote in the referendum.
In the letter, published by The Times, Mr Hawking and the others claim "If the UK leaves the EU, and there is a loss of freedom of movement of scientists between the UK and Europe, it will be a disaster for UK science and universities."
In response Dr Reid said, "This is a facile argument because long before the UK joined the Common Market, and before the implementation the of EU's Single Market policy, there was always free movement of scientists throughout Europe and the world. If anything the UK's current immigration policy, driven by the large numbers of EU citizens coming from Eastern Europe, mean that we discriminate against the young talented scientists who wish to come to the UK from the rest of the world.
"I am astonished at the content of this letter that has appeared in The Times. Clearly, these academics fail to recognise that the EU is a failed experiment.
Dr Reid continued, “It was only last month that Professor Angus Dalgleish, a leading figure in cancer research, stated that the EU’s Clinical Trials Directive had increased the costs of his own cancer research ten-fold, bringing his research to an abrupt halt, and had led to a severe decline in academic clinical trials throughout the UK.
She added, "Scientific and medical research in the UK is the envy of the world" and, commenting on an article in today's Telegraph, pointed out that, "Seven out of the top ten European Universities are in the UK, four of which are in the top five. It is our research and academic excellence which will attract investment in scientific research to the UK and not the fact that we are part of a failing political union.
"If we look at the global picture it becomes clear that in the modern world the leading centre of research is not the EU but elsewhere, primarily the United States and China, and remaining a member of the EU, far from enhancing our ability, in fact restricts it. You only have to look at the scientific research published in 2014 to see that the lions share comes from the US and China with the UK third.
Dr Reid finished by saying, “Historically the UK has always collaborated with top class academic institutions and researchers throughout the world and will continue to do so when free of the EU red tape and regulations that is holding back British science. It is time to leave the EU and by doing so British Scientists will once again become true global pioneers."