Britain's future as a world leader in scientific research is being thrown into jeopardy by naive and inexperienced Brexit campaigners, a group of Nobel laureates has warned.
Thirteen world-renowned scientists, including Professor Peter Higgs, whose predictions were tested in the large hadron collider at Cern, the graphene pioneer Sir Kostya Novoselov and geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, warned Britain would lose funding, global influence and access to a vital pool of expertise if it leaves the EU.
In a letter to The Daily Telegraph they insisted that Britain currently helps "steer the biggest scientific powerhouse in the world" and wields greater influence than it would alone on the outside.
They said: "Science drives our prosperity, health, innovation and economic growth. It should be front and centre in the EU debate.
"As British science Nobel laureates, we are concerned that those commenting on science for Brexit lack experience in scientific leadership, and are putting the superb UK research endeavour in jeopardy."
The group labelled assertions by vote Leave campaigners that the Treasury would make up any funding shortfall as "naive and complacent," given successive governments' record of granting cash for research below the OECD average.
They predicted that any access to EU funding in the event of Brexit would be on the proviso that the UK accepts measures rejected by a Leave vote, especially open borders.
However it was the importance of having free movement of ideas that the laureates wished to promote, citing a recent survey that found that 83% of UK scientists want Britain to stay in the EU.
"We may be an island, but we cannot be an island in science. Being part of the EU is good for British science and that is good for Britain," they wrote.