Boris Johnson to succeed Theresa May as Prime Minister in Britain.
LONDON (AP) — The head of Britain's leading charity funding scientific research has written to new Prime Minister Boris Johnson warning about the threat to science if Britain leaves the European Union without a deal.
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Wellcome Trust chair Eliza Manningham-Buller wrote that barriers to global collaboration must be minimized in Europe, where Britain's "closest and most extensive science relationships are." She said "some damage has already been done, with the loss of researchers and influence" since Brexit was set in motion.
Johnson said last week during his first address to Parliament that he hopes the EU would “rethink their current refusal to make changes to the withdrawal agreement,” and that the U.K. would leave the 27-member European bloc on the Oct. 31 deadline regardless of whether there is a deal.
“We will throw ourselves into these negotiations with the greatest energy and determination and in the spirit of friendship," he said.
Manningham-Buller also urged Johnson to increase state research spending to match that in Germany, and devise a more welcoming immigration policy so Britain can still attract top scientists and their families.
Johnson’s predecessor, Theresa May, negotiated but failed to pass a Brexit deal three times during her three-year tenure – each time it was rejected by an overwhelming majority. Members of May’s cabinet resigned before – and after – Johnson was announced as the new prime minister.
“It is tragic that just when we could have been the dominant intellectual and political force throughout Europe, and beyond, we have to spend every working day working beneath the dark cloud of Brexit,” Foreign Office Minister Alan Duncan, who resigned prior to the results, wrote in his resignation letter to May.
Philip Hammond, who served Chancellor of the Exchequer under May, also resigned before Johnson became the U.K.’s new leader, and has reportedly held private talks with the opposition Labor Party and others who are against a no-deal Brexit, to devise a plot to prevent Johnson from withdrawing without a deal, according to The Observer, a British newspaper. Hammond spoke with the Labor Party’s spokesman Keir Starmer shortly after he resigned, the paper said.
“The political direction of travel under Boris Johnson is clear,” Starmer told The Observer, “and so it is more important than ever that we build a strong cross-party alliance to stop a no-deal Brexit.”
He added that the work will “intensify over the summer” before Parliament reconvenes in September.
The Associated Press contributed to this report