In the new Brexit conflict, British scientists are being deprived of leadership roles for Europe-wide projects

British scientists are being stripped of leadership roles on Europe-wide projects in new evidence of how the Brexit clashes are damaging important research collaborations.

The EU has told a Cambridge University astrophysicist who studies the Milky Way he cannot be in charge of a new project – because the UK is not part of the £80billion Horizon Europe scheme.

Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal was meant to save participation – pooling talent and ideas to achieve scientific breakthroughs – but his plans to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol continue to stall that.

The EU ambassador to the UK warned that it was “collateral damage” from what Brussels saw as a violation of an international agreement.

Now Nicholas Walton, a research fellow at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Astronomy, has announced that he has lost his lead role in a new €2.8 million European Space Agency project.

Carsten Welsch, a physicist at Liverpool University who received €2.6 million in funding for long-term research on a novel plasma generator, said he faces the same risk of having to hand leadership to an EU body.

“With the UK’s association with Horizon Europe ongoing, we now risk losing our leadership in this consortium and being marginalized,” he said The guard.

“This is truly heartbreaking given the long and highly successful track record of scientific collaboration between the UK and the EU,” he said.

The backlash has come as British scientists warn the government will have to decide in the next few months whether to give up hope of remaining in the Horizon program altogether.

About £6bn has been set aside for a three-year standalone science fund that scientists see as inferior to Horizon – but which will soon have to be spent if that is the reality.

Adrian Smith, President of the Royal Society, said: “The window for association is closing fast and we need to ensure that political issues do not stand in the way of a sensible solution.

“We have always been very clear that unification is the preferred outcome to protect decades of collaborative research and the benefits it has brought to people’s lives across the continent and beyond.” In the new Brexit conflict, British scientists are being deprived of leadership roles for Europe-wide projects

Bobby Allyn

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