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UK prepares to abandon EU's £81bn science fund amid tensions over hated Brexit deal

The UK Government is reportedly keen to create a post-Brexit equivalent of the Horizon programme after recent efforts to solve the Northern Ireland Protocol failed to lead to a breakthrough. Boris Johnson, who narrowly saw off a rebellion in a vote of confidence yesterday, is said to be preparing to walk away from the European Union’s €95billion (£81billion) Horizon fund

The move has been described by scientists as a “precipice”, according to the Financial Times.

Allies of Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng appear keen to push ahead with the alternative idea.

They have claimed the Spelthorne MP was looking to trigger the non-bloc alternative later this month.

The plan would involve £6billion of spending over a three year period provided the EU shut Britain out of its own scheme.

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The news comes after the UK and EU failed to buckle in a recent stand-off over Ulster’s post-Brexit arrangements.

In a recent letter to British scientists, Kwarteng accused the EU of “politicising science and research co-operation” in the dispute over Northern Ireland.

However, the European Union’s ambassador to the UK has warned the Northern Ireland Protocol could prove costly for scientists on this side of the Channel.

João Vale de Almeida warned British scientists would become “collateral damage” in the dispute over the Protocol.

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He went on to claim it was “very regrettable” that the UK’s position as an associate member of Horizon was at risk of falling “victim of the political impasse”.

The UK could further heighten tensions with the EU amid reports Government Ministers are finalising legislation which will unilaterally rip up parts of the Protocol.

The Financial Times reports one Government official as saying the so-called Northern Ireland Bill could be published as early as next week.

Liz Truss, who took over Lord David Frost’s Brexit brief last December, has stressed the need to cut the burden of border checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, stop the European Court of Justice from policing the protocol and regain full control over state subsidies and value added tax in the region.




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