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RSE President on the EU Referendum

Posted 29/06/2016

Last week a majority of voters in the United Kingdom Referendum on membership of the European Union (EU) chose to leave the EU. While the overall result was to leave, underlying that outcome were wide geographical variations, with Scotland, Northern Ireland, London and almost all the major cities in England voting to remain, whereas Wales and many non-metropolitan areas in England opted to leave.

The implications of the decision are unclear as no member state of the EU has left before. The future relationship between the UK and the EU is also unclear – we do not at this stage know what type of engagement the UK Government will seek to negotiate, or what the response will be.

We face many important questions in the months and years ahead:

  • What arrangements will be in place concerning freedom of movement to work and to study?
  • How can we continue joint research programmes with EU institutions?
  • How can we work with the EU on major international challenges such as climate change and the refugee crisis?
  • Will the UK be able to retain access to the Single Market?
  • What are the constitutional implications within the UK – particularly with regard to Scotland and Northern Ireland?


The RSE has links with academies in Europe and other countries which it will strengthen and develop. Throughout its history, the RSE has had an international and evidence-based perspective on major issues affecting society, whether economic, scientific, legal or artistic. We will continue to offer the expertise of our Fellowship to both the UK Government and the Scottish Government. We wish to help them both find a path that ensures that in these challenging times we can continue to be an internationally engaged country with a steadily growing, stable economy. We also need to continue to play our full role in tackling the major challenges of the 21st Century. By using our knowledge base to contribute, we will ensure that we do not become isolated from solving the challenges that face the rest of Europe, and the world.  

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