Stark Brexit warning as EU will use Horizon programme to ‘hold UK hostage’

UK rejoins EU’s Horizon science programme

Despite jubilation from the Government and Remainer Lib Dems, senior Brexiteers have issued a critical warning about the UK’s impending re-entry into the EU’s Horizon science programme.

This morning Rishi Sunak said the news is the “right deal” for the UK and for British taxpayers, after sealing the deal with EU Commission president Ursula von Der Leyen on Wednesday night.

The UK will rejoin both the Horizon and Copernicus schemes, with British taxpayers forking out an as-of-yet unknown membership fee.

Scientists will be able to apply for grants from the £85 billion EU programme, something scientists have long been calling for.

Copernicus membership will also see the UK rejoin the EU’s observation satellite programme.

READ MORE: EU backs down as UK can rejoin Horizon science programme

The Lib Dems were delighted at the news, causing Brexiteers to pause for thought, with the pro-EU party saying it’s a “positive step forward. It’s about time”.

They also demanded the government now look at signing up to other EU schemes, further watering down Britain’s post-Brexit independence.

This afternoon, leading Brexiteer Lord Frost has played down allegations Britain’s re-entry is a “post Brexit shift” in relations between the bloc and the UK Government.

Lord Frost points out it was his team who tried negotiating entry in 2020, only for the EU to block Britain.

He issued a warning to No. 10 that the deal must be better than previous membership requirements, and must make up for us “having been excluded for nearly three years”.

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A senior source from the hardline Brexit group of Tory MPs, the ERG, also warned the EU will now be able to hold Britain’s membership of Horizon “hostage” if the UK Government ever tries enacting policies the EU doesn’t agree with.

They told the Express: “It was already agreed that the UK would be able to join in the UK’s trade agreement. Yet the EU locked us out of it for three years due to an unrelated dispute regarding Northern Ireland”.

“The EU has therefore already demonstrated that they are prepared to hold the UK’s participation hostage as leverage to pursue their other interests.

“Why would they not do it again? The danger is the UK will now have to comply with the EU’s interests across the whole range of subjects from fishing to finance, or the EU will lock us out and mobilise a ready made claque of UK academics who will go up in arms demanding the UK surrenders.”

They added there is also “serious concern” over whether membership of Horizon represents value for money.

Brexiteers will also be concerned at the EU’s own Horizon manifesto, which sets out the programme isn’t just about science funding but “[boosting] the EU’s competitiveness and growth]”.

It remains to be seen whether British taxpayers and scientists will now also work towards that goal.

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