Stephen Hawking, 150 scientists, and bird-watchers tell the UK: Don’t leave the EU

Money matters.
Money matters.
Image: Reuters/Toby Melville
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The list of luminaries asking the UK to remain in the European Union (EU) keeps growing. The latest addition is Stephen Hawking, along with more than 150 scientists.

On June 23, the UK will vote in a referendum to decide whether it wants to remain part of the economic bloc after joining it more than 40 years ago. Those who want to leave say that it will give the British government the chance to rule on its terms. Others say that staying in the EU brings immense economic and social benefits.

Hawking and 150 fellows of the Royal Society, world’s oldest scientific society, are in the “stay” camp. In a letter to The Times (paywall), they say that UK scientists are so good that they keep on securing a greater proportion of EU grants relative to the country’s size. The membership also allows free movement of talented scientists and their European grants to come in to the UK. “If the UK leaves the EU… it will be a disaster for UK science and universities,” they write.

Even the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) agrees with them. A report commissioned by the society says:

Membership of the EU has had, and continues to have, a significant positive impact on environmental outcomes in the UK as well as other parts of Europe, with cleaner air, water and oceans than otherwise could be expected.

“The fact that there are 421 million fewer birds in Europe than there were 30 years ago clearly suggests that not everything is working perfectly for nature, although we do know that European legislation designed to restore nature is working for some species,” the RSBP’s conservation director writes.

In other words, if not for the sake of economics or the future of science, please vote to stay in the EU for the sake of birds.