Thirteen of Britain’s top scientists signed a letter backing the campaign to remain in the EU today after a dramatic new poll boosted the momentum behind the Brexit campaign less than two weeks before the June 23 referendum.
Nobel Prize winners including Peter Higgs – after whom the Higgs Boson, believed to explain how matter acquires mass, is named – and geneticist Paul Nurse said the loss of research funding would be one consequence of leaving the bloc.
“The prospect of losing EU research funding is a key risk to UK science,” the scientists wrote in a letter published by the Daily Telegraph.
“Science thrives on permeability of ideas and people, and flourishes in environments that pool intelligence, minimise barriers, and are open to free exchange and collaboration.
“The EU provides such an environment and scientists value it highly.”
Ahead of the June 23 referendum on European Union membership, the race is looking close. An online ORB poll for the Independent newspaper yesterday sent sterling falling after indicating that 55 per cent of Britons want to leave the EU, compared to 45 per cent who want to stay.
An average of the last six opinion polls by academics at the What UK Thinks project indicates the race is tied, with each side on 50 per cent.
Senior figures in the main opposition Labour party are urging its leadership to step up their efforts to keep Britain in the EU. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, a veteran socialist, has long been sceptical of the EU and has played a relatively muted role in the “Remain” campaign.
“We’ve got to throw every vote at it,” Labour’s deputy leader Tom Watson told the Guardian. “We’ve got to redouble our efforts.”
Appearing on a late night chat show on Channel 4 yesterday, Corbyn rated his passion for staying in Europe at “seven, seven and a half”.
Britain’s top polling expert John Curtice this week said that, while it appeared there was “a substantial body of evidence supporting the idea that ‘Leave’ have made some progress”, this should be treated with caution.
One factor behind the changes may be that the “Leave” camp is finding it easier to influence commentators since May 27, when a pre-vote period in which the government can no longer publish pro-EU analysis and statistics started, Curtice said.