A survey commissioned by the United Kingdom Royal Society of Chemistry (RSC) highlights widespread concerns among chemists about a no-deal exit for the U.K. from the European Union.
With the House of Commons once again rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May's proposed deal on March 12, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit looms ever closer.
A 2018 Bank of England report said the chemistry sector's output would drop by a third if the U.K. left with.o.ut agreement. This assessment put the value of chemistry at £50 billion ($65.5 billion) to the UK economy, and said would be one of the hardest hit sectors.
The RSC questioned 5,800 chemistry professionals from the U.K., the EU, and beyond the EU's borders.
A total of 72 percent of respondents said that a no-deal Brexit would be "very negative." Only 4 percent thought it would have a positive impact.
"[This] should be a sobering reminder for government about the potential impacts this could have on U.K. science and innovation," RSC Policy and Evidence Manager Tanya Sheridan said. "We are now counting down in days to the deadline for crashing out of the EU without a deal. It is absolutely crucial for the chemical sciences and the hundreds of thousands working in industry and academia who feel they are being hung out to dry over this uncertainty."
She added that it is vital the government ensures a good deal for science and innovation that supports jobs and allows both academia and industry to maintain the UK's world-leading position.
"No deal is not an option for the chemical sciences," she said.
Respondents were most worried about: access to international facilities; international collaborative networks; funding for fundamental research; access to large-scale grants; and, easy movement for skilled scientists. And 71 percent believed a new visa requirement would make the U.K. less attractive. In total 84 percent believed that freedom of movement had positively affected science and innovation.