The UK government is reportedly keen to create a post-Brexit equivalent of the Horizon program after recent efforts to resolve the Northern Ireland protocol failed to yield a breakthrough. Boris Johnson, who narrowly saw a rebellion in a confidence vote yesterday, is reportedly preparing to quit the European Union’s €95bn (£81bn) Horizon fund.
The move has been described by scientists as a “precipice”, according to the Financial Times.
Allies of business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng seem keen to push the alternative idea forward.
They claimed the MP for Spelthorne is looking to trigger the off-bloc alternative later this month.
The plan would involve £6bn of spending over a three-year period on the condition that the EU exclude Britain from its own scheme.
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The news comes after the UK and EU failed to resolve a recent standoff over Ulster’s post-Brexit arrangements.
In a recent letter to British scientists, Kwarteng accused the EU of “politicizing scientific and research cooperation” in the dispute over Northern Ireland.
However, the European Union’s ambassador to the UK has warned that the Northern Ireland protocol could prove costly for scientists on this side of the Channel.
João Vale de Almeida has warned that British scientists will become “collateral damage” in the protocol dispute.
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He went on to say it was “very regrettable” that the UK’s position as an associate member of Horizon was in danger of becoming “a victim of political stalemate”.
The UK could further escalate tensions with the EU amid reports that government ministers are finalizing legislation that will unilaterally tear up parts of the protocol.
The Financial Times reports that a government official has said the so-called Northern Ireland Bill could be published as early as next week.
Liz Truss, who took over the Brexit dossier from Lord David Frost last December, stressed the need to reduce the burden of border controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain, to prevent the European Court justice to control the protocol and regain full control of the state. subsidies and value added tax in the region.
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