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Exclusive: SNP vows to fight to protect research

Image: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Party’s spokesperson for education takes aim at Brexit in exclusive piece for Research Fortnight

The Scottish National Party has vowed to shield Scotland’s science and economy from Brexit and the government’s “hostile” immigration policies.

Writing exclusively for Research Fortnight ahead of the general election, the party’s spokesperson for education, Carol Monaghan, said that Brexit puts the success of Scotland’s science and research sector “at risk”.

“We all know about the short and long-term threat Brexit poses to Scotland’s research base, to funding, to our international standing, our influence, and our reputation for science, research and innovation,” she said. “But perhaps what is most upsetting, is to think that all of this damage is self-inflicted.”

Research Fortnight has invited the main UK political parties to pen open letters to the sector and explain why researchers should vote for them. (Read the letter from Labour’s Chi Onwurah here and the letter from the Conservatives’ Chris Skidmore here.)

Monaghan, who was writing ahead of the publication of the SNP’s manifesto, said she was “frankly disgusted” at the government’s casual attitude towards the threat Brexit poses to Scotland’s reputation for research and its ability to compete and participate in key EU research programmes.

“I’ve heard stories of universities hiring immigration lawyers, about staff in tears, about students feeling less welcome, uncertain, and insecure,” she writes. “I’m hearing about talented and valued staff contemplating leaving Scotland and the UK.”

“The Tory government’s hostile rhetoric on immigration isn’t helping make our European friends in this country feel welcome either,” she added.

Meanwhile, the SNP has “been strongly encouraging EU nationals to continue to study and work in Scotland”, Monaghan said.

“We welcome EU nationals to our universities and research institutions with open arms. The SNP cannot, and will not allow Brexit and hostile Tory immigration policies to constrain Scotland’s scientific and economic progress.”

“Leaving the EU would see Scotland miss out on millions of pounds of European research funding, with those on exchange programmes like Erasmus also losing out.”

“This is one of the most crucial general elections in living memory, and we all have a responsibility to make sure our voice is heard,” she said. “Staying in the EU with freedom of movement, including for students, staff and researchers, is far more important to Scotland than to the UK as a whole.”

Read the full letter here