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Researchers in UK Ponder Election's Effect on Science

The majority win last week of the Conservative Party in the UK is expected to have some effects on science, but the detail of how aren't yet clear, Nature News reports.

Analysts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies have said that the Conservative plan to reduce the national deficit will entail a £30 billion (US$46 billion) cut to government spending, and, Nature News notes, scientific endeavors are not protected from these cuts. The UK science budget has been frozen and, in real terms, has fallen in recent years. Still, the University of Sussex's Paul Nightingale tells Nature News that there is support for science in Parliament. He adds, though, that funding may be more closely aligned with economic goals.

One promise by the Conservatives that Nature News says will affect science in the UK is its call for a referendum on EU membership. Manchester Business School's Kieron Flanagan says that if the UK leaves the EU, it probably won't be excluded from European research programs, but it will lose out on structural funds. But Nightingale suspects that people will vote to remain in the EU.

In addition, the new science minister Jo Johnson, who was appointed yesterday, won't be attending cabinet meetings, a separate Nature News article reports. This is raising concerns, it adds, that Johnson would have a limited influence on setting government priorities.