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One year until Brexit: What has happened for immunology and where are we now?

March 29th marks one year until Britain leaves the European Union. Since the referendum, the BSI has been committed to ensuring that the voice of immunology is heard in the negotiations and that you, our members, are kept up-to-date on developments. Here, we outline the progress that has been made so far in terms of securing the best outcome for science and technology, and in particular immunology. You can also view a summary of these points in the infographic below.


Our key asks for the Government

As outlined in our policy briefing published in January 2017, the BSI identified four key asks for the Government in order to help the UK continue a positive scientific relationship with the EU.

  1. Negotiate guaranteed access to Horizon 2020 funding as well as its successor, Framework Programme 9.
  2. Use Brexit as an opportunity to recalibrate and increase UK science funding so that our position as a world leader in science and innovation is protected and galvanized.
  3. Guarantee the rights of EU nationals currently residing in the UK to remain here and enjoy the same privileges as British citizens.
  4. Explore a simple visa system for high value workers such as immunologists to ensure the steady flow of the world's best scientists into UK-based research and clinical institutions.


What has the Government done for immunology so far?

In August 2016, the Government announced that the Treasury would underwrite EU funding provided through the Horizon 2020 programme up until the UK's exit from the EU. Importantly, this funding would also be provided for research projects extending past the official exit date. 

Since then, the Government has commissioned various reports which state the UK's intention to remain a hub for international talent and collaboration within research and innovation. 

The Life Sciences Industrial Strategy - led by immunologist Professor Sir John Bell - recommended that UK science funding should be maintained and increased to match international competitors as well as attracting new scientists from around the globe. This paper also recommended that the Government should put in place a streamlined migration system for highly-skilled workers from both within and outside the EU.  This in part motivated a campaign led by CaSE to abolish the Tier 2 visa cap, of which the BSI was a signatory. (You can read the BSI's report on how immunology can feed into the Life Sciences strategy here.)

In a paper published by the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU), the Government also stated its intention to continue working closely with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) as well as continuing its involvement with Horizon 2020 and its successor.

Central to the 2017 Autumn Budget was the Chancellor's announcement of the Government's commitment to invest 2.4% of GDP into R&D by 2027. 


Making your voice heard

We're keen to enable BSI members to stand up for immunology and get involved in our policy work. It's important that MPs and decision-makers recognise how important immunology is to the UK's future. You can:

  • Email your MP to explain why immunology should be considered. Follow this link if you're unsure how to do this. 
  • Speak out for immunology on social media and other public platforms - this can reach a wide range of people!
  • Encourage others to join the BSI. We currently have 3,500 members, but the more of you there are, the stronger our voice will be.
  • Don't give up! Tell us, your MP and other people how and why Brexit is affecting you. A lot can still be done in a year!

You can find out more information and all related documents in the Brexit Briefcase section of our website.  The BSI is a member of the Campaign for Science and Engineering (CaSE). You can read their most recent policy report on Brexit, policy, science & engineering here. Please do get in touch with us to tell us your views. You can contact our Policy & Public Affairs Manager, Matthew Gibbard.


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