The Brexit and its consequences for science

July 2016

Vivian Mannheimer / HCS-Manguinhos blog

On 24 June, during the workshop in Rio about the challenges facing interdisciplinary journals, it was confirmed that the UK had voted to leave the European Union.

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Mathew Brown in the workshop about scientific journals in Fiocruz, June 22-24, 2016. Photo: Marina Lemle

So, we talked to Mathew Brown, co-editor of Bulletin of Latin American Research, who voted for remaining.

Mathew analyzed the consequences of this exit for science and the academic community, and who talked here in a personal capacity.

What is the meaning of Brexit?

The Brexit means many things. It means the need to reconstruct Britain’s relationship with Europe.

It also means the probable break-up of the United Kingdom, with the calls for a new referendum on independence in Scotland. It means major consequences for Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, with the new construction of a border between them.

And, of course, the prime minister resigned. It has also consequences for the relationships of intellectuals, academics and experts, who were repeatedly criticized by the leave campaigners.

The intellectuals and academics were overwhelmingly in favor of staying in the European Union, so their public role in the society comes under massive strain and tension.

This would be exactly my second question. Which are the consequences of this exit to science and technology? 

Massive consequences in terms of European funding for science in the United Kingdom. Most of the scientists came out in favor of staying in the EU because of the financial consequences of leaving, and the potential damage to their research collaborations and ability to recruit the best scientists regardless of national origin.

The consequences are potentially massive in terms of institutional relationships, in terms of research and, perhaps even more than that, in Modern Languages in the UK. I work in the Department of Hispanic, Portuguese and Latin American Studies, in the School of Modern Languages, in the University of Bristol.

Many of our students depend on European Union funding, through the Erasmus programme, to go study in Spain and Portugal. Maybe the UK can leave the EU and remain part in in Erasmus. I hope so.

Conversely, of course, the Brexit decision makes the study and research in Modern Languages in the UK ever more important, to avoid the country sinking further into parochialism and isolation.

In your opinion, which were the main reasons leading to this result ?

Economic crisis, austerity measures and reduction of state spending by the government, which left most people in a precarious economic situation.

So, that means that people are unhappy and the blame for that has been placed by the campaigners and much of the traditional media on to the European Union, and then, by extension, on the supposed failure of the European Union to protect the UK and its borders from immigration.

The problem would be that in a globalized world it is almost impossible to control migration, whether the UK forms part of the EU or not. Much of the discourse about migration in the UK is based on fallacy and prejudice.

See in our blog other interviews about current affairs:

El nuevo gobierno argentino y la salud

Elecciones en el Perú: propuestas débiles para la salud

Read articles about Great Britain in HCS-Manguinhos:

Kanikadan, Paula Yuri Sugishita and Marques, Maria Cristina da Costa. Uma trajetória dos profissionais de saúde ingleses, 1815-1858. Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos, Mar 2013, vol.20, no.1, p.29-47. ISSN 0104-5970

Manton, John. Global and local contexts: the Northern Ogoja Leprosy Scheme, Nigeria, 1945-1960. Hist. cienc. saude-Manguinhos, 2003, vol.10, suppl.1, p.209-223. ISSN 0104-5970

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