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Letter to the Prime Minister – Trump visa ban has damaging consequences for UK science

30 Jan 2017

CaSE has written to the Prime Minister to highlight the longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership between the UK and USA scientific communities.

In this letter our Executive Director, Dr Sarah Main, highlights the longstanding and mutually beneficial partnership between the UK and USA scientific communities and warn that those ties may be eroded by the President’s executive order on immigration and a wider restrictive approach to migration, both in the UK and USA, to the detriment of the UK’s scientific strength.

Update April 2017: CaSE received a response from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office

You can read the full letter below:

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister
10 Downing Street

31st January 2017

Dear Prime Minister,

Your premiership has been marked by unequivocal support for the UK’s exceptional strength in science, research and innovation, backed by a step change in Government investment in research and development and a place at the heart of the industrial strategy.

As you have observed, the UK’s science base is a global hub of excellence with complex ties to other leading scientific nations across the world. These ties take many forms: the top talent seek out the most scientifically exciting places in the world to work, many UK universities have formal partnership programmes with universities abroad, research groups establish informal collaboration across nations, and global corporations invest in the UK to build partnerships with our science and research community.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering is the UK’s leading independent advocate for science and engineering, representing individuals and over 100 scientific organisations including businesses, universities, learned societies and research charities. Collectively our members employ 360,000 people in the UK. Their interests are as international as the UK science base itself, with our industry and charity members investing around £34.9bn a year in R&D globally. Many of our members have widespread and longstanding interests in the United States of America; some are headquartered there.

The interests of UK science have been well-served by longstanding and mutually beneficial partnerships with the USA that have thrived for a century. I am therefore appalled by President Trump’s executive order on immigration and concerned about the long-term consequences for the UK’s international scientific relations if it is an indication of the USA’s future migration policies.

The executive order has already had immediate impact reported by our members: registered delegates to scientific conferences in the USA who are now unable to travel, tech firms moving to resolve issues for affected UK-based staff. If migration policy in the USA becomes increasingly restrictive, the international ties that currently serve to enhance the UK’s scientific strength could be eroded. If, in concert, the UK’s migration policy becomes increasingly restrictive, there could be a profound impact on the structure and success of UK science and innovation and, therefore, on your aspiration for Britain’s future prosperity to be built on its scientific strength.

The Government must move urgently to understand and mitigate the immediate impact of President Trump’s executive order on UK science. Further, it should seek to establish international relations and a migration policy that support your ambition to make the UK ‘the best place for science and innovation’.

The Campaign for Science and Engineering stands ready to help inform and advise the Government on the needs and views of its membership and the UK’s science and innovation community.

Yours sincerely,

Dr Sarah Main

Executive Director
Campaign for Science and Engineering