CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Scientists in EU flag stunts as Theresa May tours Francis Crick Institute

Leading research centre says it respects the right of its staff to express their views on Brexit

26 April, 2018 — By Tom Foot

An EU flag is held up behind the Prime Minister’s meeting [Photos @EuFlagMafia]

CHEEKY boffins protested against Brexit as Prime Minister Theresa May toured the Francis Crick Institute – by switching their screen-savers to EU flags “en-masse” and waving printouts behind her back.

Scientists protested as the Brexit-backing Ms May launched a “tech alliance” agreement with India’s head of state Narendra Modi at the research centre in Somers Town. The Crick, as it is known, employs thousands of researchers from EU countries outside the UK. It backed its staff, saying it respected their right to protest.

Pictures were posted by EU Flag Mafia group on social media, with one tweet saying: “As May and the Indian PM visit the Crick Institute today, staff hold up EU flags and EU screen savers abound. Respect.”

Another said: “Staff at the Crick Institute protest­ed en masse during Theresa May’s visit holding up EU flag printouts.” The New Journal was not invited to the launch last Wednesday. Official photographs were tweeted by Downing Street.

But outside the building, EU Flag Mafia group members protested with placards and unfurled a banner. The £700million institute was set up to improve the treatment, diagnosis and prevention of human disease.

Prime Minister Theresa May visited ‘The Crick’ last week

[Photo: 10 Downing Street]

The organisation, headed by Nobel Prize-winning Sir Paul Nurse, has raised concerns about leaving the EU and how this could have serious financial and intellectual consequences for its important research work. A statement has warned that the “diverse intellectual talent base” – 40 per cent of its staff are from EU countries outside the UK – could be destabilised by Brexit.

Staff printed out copies of the EU flag

Much of its funding has been secured through EU grants, it has stressed. It has demanded that negotiators ensure that movement between countries is kept “simple”.

A spokesman said: “We are an international institute and over a third of our scientists come from EU countries outside the UK. It is not surprising that some of them feel passionately about policies that could significantly impact their lives. We respect their right to express their views.”

The institute is named after Francis Crick, whose work with James Watson led to the identification of the structure of DNA in 1953, drawing on research by Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin.

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