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Off the rails

Now Brexit has hit the buffers, science needs guarantees.

As the Conservative Party faithful gathered in Birmingham this week, some may have noticed the start of work in the city on HS2, the £56-billion rail project whose early funding sources included European Union money aimed at creating better connectivity across Europe. That has more than a touch of irony given goings-on at the International Convention Centre, where the farcical state of negotiations to break the UK’s connections to the EU inevitably topped the agenda. With no deal in sight, the economic cost of the withdrawal, according to one think-tank’s estimate, could already be running to £500m (or a sizeable slice of an epic rail project) a week.

With prime minister Theresa May’s Chequers plan for a Brexit deal looking virtually derailed by opposition from within the EU and her own party, researchers’ hopes for any kind of smooth transition on arrangements that matter to science also look to be held at a red signal.

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