The Government’s “threat” to spend the entire UK science budget on duplicating Galileo because it has “bungled” negotiations on the UK-EU satellite programme is final proof that its “science strategy is lost in space”, Labour has claimed.
Minister for Universities, Science, Research and Innovation Sam Gyimah told the Commons that Galileo talks were under way, but warned “we’ve made it very clear that not only does it benefit the UK but the EU’s member states stand to lose skills and important issues without the UK’s involvement”.
Shadow business minister Chi Onwurah raised the issue during Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy questions, arguing that UK science “risks crashing down to earth” amid the Government’s “Brexit chaos”.
She said: “Science is a great British success story, supporting jobs and growth across the country.
“But with Europe’s funding for UK science down a fifth, over 6,000 engineers and scientists denied visas this year alone and universities reporting that Brexit chaos is freezing them out of Europe’s new £90 billion science fund, UK science risks crashing down to earth.
“So does the minister accept that his threat to spend the entire UK science budget on duplicating Galileo because it has bungled negotiations on this £9 billion UK-EU collaboration is final proof that his science strategy is lost in space?”
Mr Gyimah replied: “We have got the biggest increase in science and innovation in this country that we’ve had for 40 years, in terms of the UK and EU science collaboration, the EU Commissioner himself said it is very important for the UK and it is very important for the EU to have a relationship in science and innovation, we have had that relationship for so long.
“And on Galileo, negotiations are under way and we’ve made it very clear that not only does it benefit the UK but the EU’s member states stand to lose skills and important issues without the UK’s involvement.”