Most scientists want Britain to stay in EU: Nature poll

London, March 31 (IANS) Nature, a renowned science journal, on Wednesday released the results of a poll of nearly 2,000 researchers living in the European Union, indicating that most scientists want Britain to remain in the bloc.

Britain will put the question of whether to stay in the EU to a national referendum on June 23. The subject has been widely debated in the country, which heavily revolved around immigration and the economy.

If Britain leaves EU, or Brexit, it will also bring impact on science in the country. At least that is what most scientists think, acoording to Xinhua.

Of the 907 researchers working in Britain who were polled, 83 percent said that they wanted Britain to stay in, whereas 12 percent were in favour of a Brexit, according to the Nature poll.

When only the 666 British researchers who plan to vote in the referendum were included, these figures shifted slightly — to 80 percent and 14 percent.

Sentiment was similar among polled researchers living outside Britain but inside the EU, who don’t have a vote. Of these 954 individuals, 77 percent wanted Britain to stay in the EU, whereas 17 percent wanted it to leave, according to the poll.

Of those who intend to vote in the referendum, 78 percent said that a Brexit would harm Britain’s science, and nine percent said that it would be beneficial. Both British and EU researchers thought that an exit would harm the rest of EU science — although to a lesser extent than it harmed Britain’s science.

The poll has resonated with the call for Britain to stay in the EU by some British scientists. On March 10, The Times newspaper published a letter showing the benefits to science of EU membership, signed by more than 150 researchers at the University of Cambridge who are fellows of the Royal Society.

Scientists in favour of staying note that British universities receive around 16 percent of their total research funding directly from the EU, and that membership allows researchers to move freely between members and to work with no restrictions, according to Nature.

But some pro-Brexit politicians have suggested that money that Britain currently gives to the EU as part of its membership could be invested in science if the country leaves.

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