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Double or quits?

Image: Sarah Main

Theresa May’s manifesto commitments to science spending might fall victim to her weakened position—or it could be her legacy, says Sarah Main.

In the 2015 general election campaign, it was considered radical to push to increase research spending in line with inflation. Bruised by years of flat cash and cuts to capital budgets, many were grateful that the science budget had at least stood still. So for research, the outstanding feature of the 2017 campaign has to be the widespread commitment to eye-watering increases in R&D spending.

The Conservatives, the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats all made bold manifesto commitments: Labour to spending 3 per cent of GDP on R&D by 2030; the Lib Dems to a “doubling in the long term”; and the Conservatives to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027, with a long-term aim to reach 3 per cent. To put this in context, national R&D expenditure was 1.68 per cent of GDP in 2015.

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