Jamie Martin’s pro-Brexit piece made me cringe at the contradictory nature of the arguments proposed (“Academics must face EU’s ‘inconvenient truth’ ”, Opinion, 24/31 December). While the European Union is accused of having an “anti-science culture” at the start of the piece, by the end Martin admits that “Horizon 2020 money could amount to a fifth of the UK science budget”. Also, the irony is lost at the criticism of EU immigration policies in the face of the UK government’s tougher rules on international students’ visas, not to speak of the characterisation of EU institutions as “outdated” from the perspective of a country in which royal pomp and medieval traditions are key marks of national identity.
What I found particularly disturbing, however, were the negative examples of an “unskilled Spaniard” or “the least qualified Italian student” as the unworthy beneficiaries of the current EU immigration policies. Such examples are not only indicative of prejudicial attitudes towards Southern European citizens, but also ignore the fact that, as Neil Carmichael points out, “15 per cent of all academic staff at our universities are from EU countries” (“Why leaving the EU would be damaging for UK higher education”, Opinion, 11 December). I won’t speculate on how many are from Southern Europe; in the end it does not and it should not matter.
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