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Johnson, Brexit, and Science

Boris Johnson has been chosen as the UK's next prime minister, and Nature News examines how science there may fare as Johnson pursues Brexit, even is no deal is made.

The UK voted in 2016 to leave the European Union, but Prime Minister Theresa May was unable to secure support in Parliament for a deal governing Britain's departure from the EU, which led to her resignation in May and Johnson's selection this week. Johnson previous served as mayor of London and supported Brexit, and has said, according to the New York Times, he would take the UK out of Britain by the October 31 deadline, "do or die."

Prior to the Brexit vote, a poll conducted by Nature found that few scientists there supported leaving the EU — 83 percent of UK researchers polled said Britain should remain in the EU. Both before and after the vote, many researchers said they were concerned that leaving the EU would negatively affect British science, especially by limiting British researchers' access to European funding and the free movement of scientists, particularly if there is no exit deal in place.

These worries persist, Nature News adds. Without a deal, it notes that Britain could be shut out of the €100 billion (US$112 billion) Horizon Europe funding program and lose talented researchers as about 17 percent of researchers in the UK are originally from other EU countries.

Additionally, Nature News notes that Johnson paid little attention to science and research as he campaigned for the leadership role and it's unclear how it will do under his leadership.