Chief executive writes to IOP members about Brexit

Since I last wrote on Brexit, we have continued to strongly advocate for our community throughout the process, and I wanted to let you know that I will write to you more fully later this year once key decisions have been taken between the UK and EU. My earlier note generated some really useful views from you – so please continue to let me have your thoughts on how best to support our community through this process. You can send your comments to policy@iop.org.

We now enter a pivotal period for decision making about the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The draft Withdrawal Agreement, scheduled for publication in mid-October, will frame our engagement with EU research and innovation programmes and will set the terms by which scientists can move between the UK and the EU. This period will also see preparations for the Spending Review, setting Government investment in UK science and innovation over the coming years, and we also expect to see the UK’s proposed migration policy.

You will know that the UK Government’s stated position is that it wants a close working relationship with the EU’s science and innovation programmes – a positive stance, and one that reflects much of the advice that the science and engineering community has provided to Ministers. So over the next few months we’ll be reinforcing the importance of our European collaborations and the vital need for scientists, technicians and their families to be able to move freely from one country to another to live and work. We will also be contributing evidence and advice ahead of the Spending Review to help ensure sustained investment in our research and innovation base.

And we must also prepare for the consequences of a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit. We are closely examining the Government’s recently published technical notes on preparations for the UK leaving the EU without striking a deal. They include issues directly related to physics and, depending on decisions taken by the UK and EU in the autumn, we will be responding by offering to support the Government on the very practical issues that these notes raise. We expect to hear more soon on radioactive isotopes for medical diagnosis and treatment and, of course, on the issue of free movement and citizenship. Since the notes were published, BEIS has updated its Q&A document on UK participation in Horizon 2020, which you can read here.

I would also like to draw your attention to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee’s inquiry into the balance and effectiveness of research and innovation spending (see here) and I would encourage anyone with an interest to submit evidence.

Your voice is vital at this time. Your views strengthen our work and help us make the strongest case for our science as we enter the final stages of the Brexit negotiations. I will update you in more detail later this year and, in the meantime, thank you again for your continued support.

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