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Britain: Scientist awarded Nobel prize slams Brexit - considering renouncing British Citizenship

One of the four British scientists awarded a Nobel prize this week has said he is considering renouncing his citizenship because of Brexit.

Two of the other new laureates, all of whom now work in the US, have joined him in criticising the decision to leave the EU, with one saying it may change his mind about returning to the UK.

Michael Kosterlitz told The Times that the vote “is a very stupid, narrow-minded decision and will have disastrous long-term effects on science in UK ... I feel strongly about Brexit and do not wish to be associated with a country which is so insular and narrow-minded.”

Professor Kosterlitz, now based at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, said that even if he had not left the UK, “Brexit would have had me job-hunting immediately. The idea of not being able to travel and work freely in Europe is unthinkable to me. I have kept my UK passport for visiting Europe but if the UK does not change its mind, I will not renew it and may even renounce my British citizenship and just keep my US citizenship, because the British citizenship will not be worth anything useful to me.”

He shared the prize for his discoveries in condensed matter physics with two other British scientists, Duncan Haldane and David Thouless.

Professor Haldane, now at Princeton, also criticised the decision to leave the EU, which has been hugely unpopular among scientists. He said he had considered returning to the UK but was now unlikely to do so because of the loss of grants from the European Research Council. “I was seriously considering coming back a few years ago,” he told The Guardian. “It was suggested it might be possible to get one of these euros 5 million ERC grants. That’s much better support than I can get here.

“These grants are specifically aimed at bringing established people back. Without that, it makes it more difficult for people to come back.

“I wouldn’t be going back just to kill myself eating high table dinners at a college.”

Before the vote to leave the European Union, scientists argued that freedom of movement was crucial to their profession, with research increasingly done across borders. Sir Fraser Stoddart, who won the Nobel prize in chemistry on Wednesday and is originally from Edinburgh, said that the loss of immigrant scientists would be catastrophic.

“I am extremely worried about the consequences of Brexit,” he said. “My colleagues in the UK thrive on the free movement of young people back and forth between the UK and the other 27 EU nations. If the portcullis comes down then at one fell swoop we are cutting off the vast majority of talent.

“We would go from 500 million people to 65 million. This could have dire consequences for British science, it would be sheer disaster. I hope for the country’s sake that some group of people can put a massive spoke in this wheel and stop it.”

Read more: Nobel scientist slams Brexit

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