My Lords, as a career scientist I ask myself whether the Prime Minister’s deal is good or bad for UK science. Last Friday, the Science Minister, Sam Gyimah, gave his verdict when he resigned, saying that the deal would mean that the UK’s interests,
“will be repeatedly and permanently hammered by the EU 27 for many years to come”.
He recognised the gap between the warm and encouraging words of the political declaration and the harsh reality of negotiation over the years ahead.
The president of the Royal Society, commenting on the deal, put it this way:
“This is a step in the right direction but it will be a long hard road to reach a long-term agreement”.
The report that came out today from the European Union Select Committee also highlights in paragraph 199 that nothing is said in the deal about how we will reach future agreements on science and technology with the other member states.
The trigger event for the resignation of Sam Gyimah, as noble Lords will be aware, was the European Union 27 rejecting the UK’s bid to remain in Galileo. This is the European Union’s satellite navigation system that will serve as an alternative to the GPS system from the United States that we all use every day on our smartphones. Galileo, importantly, will give European Union member states access to high-resolution data that is crucially important in military security. We are now left out in the cold. Having spent £1.24 billion on Galileo, we are going to start all over again to build our own stand-alone system. This is lunacy.