back to article Report slams UK plan to become 'science superpower' by 2030

How's the UK doing in its ambitions to become a sci-tech "superpower" by 2030? According to a report by the Lords Science and Technology Committee, not well, and a row over EU funding and concern over their career prospects is continuing to affect scientists in the country. The peers, headed by committee chair Julia King ( …

  1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

    Pariahs

    The UK is not going to be a "science superpower" until engineers stop being treated like pariahs, the necessary evil and the reason why shareholders couldn't get greater dividend, rather than people that create value and facilitate growth.

    It's incomprehensible that today you can spend decades learning and working hard only to make the same money as an unskilled worker. I have seen job offers for PhD researchers paying a whopping sum of £35k pa, which coincidentally is the same amount one of my friends make as a cleaner (nothing against this trade, just that you don't have to spend a decade studying brooms and detergents and write papers about it).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pariahs

      I have always been amazed that over here you can have some chap coming over to install your broadband (probably after a one-day training) who calls himself an engineer whereas in Germany it's a criminal offence to claim to be an engineer without having spent four or five years at a top university and the degree to prove it.

      Guess which country takes engineering (or anything technical, really) seriously and which country doesn't.

      1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

        Re: Pariahs

        As an aside, in the UK, selection of honorifics in online forms is usually restricted to plain Mr, Ms, Mrs, and possibly Dr. Here in Germany I am frequently amazed by Dr, Dr Dr, Professor, Professor Dr Dr and so on.The Germans are very defensive of their qualifications.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pariahs

          Yes, I suspect that's also the reason they have so many thesis plagiarism scandals in politics. It appears hard to progress in German politics without at least a PhD (Merkel had a doctorate in quantum chemistry!) so with many prominent people having completed doctoral studies the likelihood of someone having cheated in their thesis two decades prior is higher too.

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: Pariahs

            Although their Phds were all in politics/economics so arguably publishing something you stole/made-up/don't believe, in is the perfect qualification

          2. Pascal Monett Silver badge
            WTF?

            Quantum chemistry ?

            That exists ?

            1. BebopWeBop

              It does.

              For a slightly limited overview - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_chemistry

        2. Stephen Wilkinson

          Re: Pariahs

          Dont forget EurIng too, for those engineers out there :)

        3. NATTtrash Silver badge

          Re: Pariahs

          The Germans are very defensive of their qualifications.

          Indeed they are, and there is no doubt there's a cultural element to it.

          However, do not forget that titles in Germany also have legal significance. That's why they have it on official documentation, e.g. your drivers license. That's an important difference to other countries where those titles are just academic qualifications, with absolutely no relevance to every day life.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Pariahs

      I remember a lament by a professor that 'his' plumber earns more (that was early 1990s).

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Pariahs

        Perhaps his plumber understands economics better

      2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

        Re: Pariahs

        "Ah you are a professor? If you are so smart, why didn't you get into plumbing?" and similar used by tradesmen to wind up their clients ;-)

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Pariahs

          Today class we are going to do a lesson I don't want to teach, you don't want to learn about but are paying for because the university requires it for course credit.

          So welcome to "intro to economics"

      3. Lars Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Pariahs

        Was he a better plumber than the plumber.

        This is simply silly, there is no need to put people in some silly Title/no title wage size list.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Pariahs

      "£35k pa, which coincidentally is the same amount one of my friends make as a cleaner"

      That sounds rather a lot for cleaning job. I'd have to guess it's not a the person who comes around at night and empties the office bins and hoovers the floor. Or is that poverty level wages for central London office cleaners?

      1. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Pariahs

        >£35k pa ...

        That sounds rather a lot for cleaning job

        From my contacts who are also employed by HS2, sounds about right for a cleaner employed by HS2.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    According to a report by the Lords Science and Technology Committee, it's currently on track to make the phrase an "empty slogan."

    It won't matter to the government. Governments work on the principle that the slogan is the product and better an empty one than none at all.

    1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Most people won't ever check whether a slogan has actually been implemented. So often, from PR point of view, a slogan is just as good as actually delivering on it, except that you don't have to.

      1. b0llchit Silver badge

        Alternatives:

        Forwards we Go!

        or

        We'll only stop when finished.

        or

        Together we are strong

        1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

          No sleep till bedtime!

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "just as good as actually delivering on it,"

        And much cheaper.

        1. elsergiovolador Silver badge

          And still you can spend money on mates contracts to do a "research" on how to deliver it...

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Especially when you can announce a huge budget for it, never actually spend it, then change the slogan and announce the same budget for it again and pretend it "new" money. Rinse and repeat 'till the budget seems astronomical.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        slogan is just as good as actually delivering on it, except that you don't have to.

        also somewhat cheaper than delivery. With savings that go towards your brownie points and / or towards other good causes. Run by your good friends.

    2. codejunky Silver badge

      @Doctor Syntax

      "It won't matter to the government. Governments work on the principle that the slogan is the product and better an empty one than none at all."

      Also depending on how long they will be in government (or expect to remain). We have had the tories for a while but varying governments from Cameron to Boris.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        I suspect that that is one of the reasons behind the UK's shoddy educational system (no, just having Oxbridge that 0.001% of the population attends doesn't offset the poor average and outright shocking bottom). So many people who can barely write in their native (and only!) language.

        Investing in education eventually solves all matter of things, not just poor economic performance but also health, crime levels, living standards. The problem is that it can easily take a decade before the effects become visible and that makes it unattractive for many politicians.

        I live in London and primary and secondary education here is said to have jumped from one of the worst in the UK to one of the best and that is often attributed to the Blair years and their focus on improving primary education. The Blair years! It took over a decade to pay off.

        I doubt Blair was expecting to be in power that long but do you think any of current candidates for PM to take this seriously if it takes over ten years? Their horizon is now measured in months. They'll just promise to build 40 new schools, half build one, and be done with it. Until we get politicians that are actually on the side of Britain that will not change.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: @Doctor Syntax

          "The Blair years! It took over a decade to pay off."

          For those at University in the Blair years when tuition fees were hiked it will take a long time for that to pay off.

        2. ICL1900-G3 Bronze badge

          Re: @Doctor Syntax

          The current government seems to equate 'make it so' with actually having achieved something.

      2. Nifty Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        It's called fruit fly politics.

      3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: @Doctor Syntax

        "We have had the tories for a while but varying governments from Cameron to Boris."

        I think it's a truth that applies universally to governments of all hues and shades. Announcing the same money for whatever it might be several times over as if it's new money each time is part of the same mind-set.

    3. DJO Silver badge

      It's not a new Tory tactic, it's been just about their only tactic for years: Make a big announcement, get lots of favourable coverage from their poodles at the Daily Mail, Telegraph etc. Throw a few million at a tame "consultant" who is probably a family member of someone who's owed a favour, then with the "report" saying it can't be done they'll just quietly forget the whole thing. Anyone remember the £2B "Great Northern Forest" £13m to a consultant and then nothing.

      You'll also notice that big finance plans are more often than not the money they want the private sector to pony up when the private sector has no intention or incentive to do so. Like the Forest mentioned above, they only mentioned a few days after the announcement that they wanted the private sector to pay the £2B, fat chance.

      1. Nifty Silver badge

        "get lots of favourable coverage from their poodles at the Daily Mail, Telegraph"

        Actually the Telegraph is quite good at deconstructing current blustery government pronouncements. The Guardian is more likely to just denounce them. It takes one to know one.

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Like the Forest mentioned above, they only mentioned a few days after the announcement that they wanted the private sector to pay the £2B, fat chance.

        You mean this scheme? Or is this a watered down version of the one you are referring too?

        1. DJO Silver badge

          That looks like a fraction of the original proposals from 2018 and is still just another proposal - Come back when it actually exists.

          It's taken them 4 years to cut the proposals to about 30% of the original and in that time they've not actually planted a single tree, what makes you think this new proposal has any possibility of being implemented?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      a slogan, not a policy

      "[Boris Johnson is] a publicity phenomenon, which is how he got the 80-seat majority. He’s squandering that. He looks dodgy. It’s like having a drift in the ceiling and you think, oh, I can live with that for a bit. And the whole fucking ceiling comes down and you think, I wish I’d dealt with that. Voters don’t seem to care, then suddenly, it all catches up with you. The troubles with the economy are going to mount up. Levelling up is a slogan and not a policy. Global Britain is a slogan and not a policy. He just looks shallow."

      https://borisjohnson.themaninquotes.com/he-just-looks-shallow/

      That was Johnson, but May was equally vacuous ("Brexit means Brexit") and neither of the two candidates that will be appointed to us as our new Prime Minister seem to move away from the focus on the veneer. The UK has become a Rover 800 Series, impressive at the time but now rusting on the inside yet covered in some shiny "world beating" wrap that hides the lack of maintenance long enough to sell it on to the next electorate.

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Re: a slogan, not a policy

        With Johnson United Kingdom was also a slogan, not a policy. (I think the past tense should be acceptable now.)

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: a slogan, not a policy

        >The UK has become a Rover 800 Series, impressive at the time

        Well only if you compared it to the other mass production cars being produced by the "British" car industry, as opposed to the car industry in Briain and definitely don't mention the Germans...

    5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      currently on track to make the phrase an "empty slogan.

      Although they will probably fail to achieve this lofty goal

    6. breakfast
      Mushroom

      The principle that they can govern entirely through media management is infuriating and they deserve to suffer for it as much as they have made our citizens and friends suffer, but of course they won't, will they?

      1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        Well, Cameron's background was in PR but I always assumed he was chosen as the most Blairalike candidate they can find so it's a tendency of governments of both hues going back into the last century.

    7. John D'oh!

      Better an empty one than one that requires effort to deliver on.

      "Brexit means Brexit".

      "Get Brexit done".

  3. Warm Braw Silver badge

    It's a complicated issue...

    ... and we now live in an era where complexity of any kind must be denied.

    While funding is of course a significant factor, science requires an ecosystem in which to thrive. It requires strong institutions, facilities, international cooperation and respect.

    Britain's universities are under attack from all side and from within. They depend increasingly on zero-hours contracts and generally treat their highly-qualified staff as disposable (showing the value they really place on "education"). Facilities are increasingly unavailable - there's a significant shortage of lab space for life sciences (for example), particularly in the Oxford-Cambridge "arc" whose development has largely been abandoned (because "levelling up" would mean having to spend equivalent sums in the north), so research is going elsewhere. Post-Brexit, the UK is not a preferred destination for EU researchers because of the high cost and complexity of moving their families and their precarious status once here: surprisingly, scientists are people and they have lives outside of their work. And generally they would prefer to be somewhere where they haven't had enough of experts, where they don't have to wait years for hospital treatment, can find a dentist and don't get yelled at in the supermarket for being foreign.

    We've voted not to have the things that science requires. Or trade. Or social care. Etc. And a lot of people still seem happy to have empty slogans instead. It will be interesting to see whether that changes after a freezing winter with 13% inflation.

    1. BebopWeBop

      Re: It's a complicated issue...

      I generally agree - but don't blame the specious 'levelling up' - the funds just won't be made available.

    2. elsergiovolador Silver badge

      Re: It's a complicated issue...

      And generally they would prefer to be somewhere where they haven't had enough of experts, where they don't have to wait years for hospital treatment, can find a dentist and don't get yelled at in the supermarket for being foreign.

      Also low level crime is essentially legal here. Someone breaks in to your house and steals your expensive equipment? You'll spend your time arguing with the police whether it is a civil matter or not and that they unlikely are going to find the burglars even if you have them recorded in 4k and that you probably should have installed better locks and they are already late for their lunch.

      That being said, it's not like the EU is a rosy place where everything is perfect and engineers vomit rainbows. There are countries within the union with considerably worse environment to work and it's not like other countries outside of the EU don't attract scientists. It is really down to money. Can I sustain my family on an engineer salary? Can I buy a house? Can I buy or rent a workshop where I can do personal research? If healthcare is bad, could I afford private healthcare? If police don't work, can I afford security? If local population is hostile, can I afford to live in a gated community? If schools are bad, can I afford to have children go to school abroad, their accommodation, nanny and frequent visits? The more money you make it matters less where you make it.

      So currently the UK is not able to sustain a lifestyle you would want after committing your prime time to education and self development.

      1. Warm Braw Silver badge

        Re: It's a complicated issue...

        If schools are bad, can I afford to have children go to school abroad, their accommodation, nanny and frequent visits?

        There are clearly those who embrace the opportunity offered by their wealth to outsource their children as well as those who may be happy to live in gated ghettos with the heads of peasants on perimeter spikes. However, I venture to suggest that very few people are quite so sociopathically venal - or, cynically, that few will experience wealth that tests their moral fibre - and the proposal that "the more money you make it matters less where you make it" is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

        1. ChoHag Bronze badge

          Re: It's a complicated issue...

          The vast majority of the population would leap at the chance given these opportunities, which is why the vocal minority have to claw them away from any such lofty aspirations as "not living in the sewer they were born to" lest it reflect badly on their own wallowing.

        2. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: It's a complicated issue...

          Ever travelled in South Africa? Particularly Johannesburg?

          The disparity of have and have not is to positively dystopian levels; and low and behold, some of those without clamour for an alternative. Sometimes, by any means necessary.

          The redistribution of wealth is something that early mega-banking institutions recognised was necessary. The current incumbents have forgotten it. If only one person controls the wealth, and work does not pay; then why would anyone work.

          At the end of the day, money is just a mostly accepted IOU for services rendered or trading goods. The balance of what that IOU is worth for those actually generating wealth as opposed to those in power is blatantly going the wrong direction. Being a CEO was a respectable profession maybe 10, 15 years ago. Today, they are just another part of the problem (well, the majority are - there are some exceptions).

          A balance can be found between Marxist diatribe and rampant Capitalism. Our binary politics and FPTP doesn't allow for it. And when times are bad, the former becomes popular.

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: It's a complicated issue...

        I would just like to point out that Canada is a frozen wasteland of cannibal zombies and you don't want to move here

        1. BebopWeBop
          Happy

          Re: It's a complicated issue...

          Thanks for the warning. It does explain some of our new neighbours

    3. Binraider Silver badge

      Re: It's a complicated issue...

      Speaking from experience - a university I work with a lot has seen significant proportions of it's "more recent" academic staff essentially do their three years and quit.

      Every single one of them has gone to work in industry directly rather than the university, all of them work a third of the hours, on better terms and pay.

      The only holdouts tend to be the long-serving staff members that are less motivated by finance and/or have golden handcuffs like DB pensions. And even then, we see early retirement as a favoured option. As John Lewis recently commented - of the mid-50's and up, many are choosing to leave the workforce rather than put up with the hassle.

      The universities are incredible institutions but the way they are funded is desperately broken; at student, staff and management levels.

      This country will not support the move to Feudalism, we are not serfs. And we have had enough.

  4. Howard Sway Silver badge

    Industry has been insufficiently engaged with the government's strategy

    That's because you can't engage with wishful thinking and boastful fantasies of greatness. If the new strategy is that business should do all the investing because the government has more important voters to bribe spending priorities, then how is that any different to doing nothing? It's not as if anyone was stopping businesses from doing R&D although with CEOs entirely focused on short term investor returns rather than long term innovation and growth it's pretty clear why innovation has been thin on the ground.

    Talk is cheap, success is hard work, and hard work costs money. Unless the cold hard cash is produced, the strategy will remain nothing more than hot air.

  5. karlkarl Silver badge

    England will never focus on science and improving knowledge.

    All we ever do is sell shite consumer phones to each other all day.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      A nation of shoppers...

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      Scotland has a long history of successful inventors.

      England, not so much. Too many middlemen want their cut.

  6. Cederic Silver badge

    thank you

    Without distracting from the whole article being well written and informative, thank you for the excellent objective write-up of the current UK and EU disagreement regarding the Northern Ireland protocol.

    The Register yet again setting standards other media really ought to learn from.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: thank you

      I think the problem can be summed up like this:

      United Kingdom - no internal border of any kind

      Good Friday Agreement - no hard border in the island of Ireland

      Brexit - a border somewhere.

      Pick any two because all three together are impossible. Brexit was BoJo's addition. The conundrum won't go away just because he's going. Goodness knows what his successor will do with it.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: thank you

        From 2017 slide:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=agZ0xISi40E

        Also for the NI protocol:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1Yv24cM2os

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: thank you

          @Paul Crawford

          "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1Yv24cM2os"

          There is a mistake in this video. It claims 3 options (the trinity) but actually there is a 4th option. The border wall is between the EU and Ireland where Ireland gets another 'oddity' orbit (as the EU is used to with ALL its other various 'orbits' see your first video) as a flipped version of the UK internal border wall (which is very odd for us).

          The problem with the explanations is they dont seem to follow that the UK's border ends at NI but the EU border ends at ROI. What happens on the other side is not the 'right' of the other to dictate. This is where the EU can come to some agreement or not as is their choice but same for the UK.

          Having that border practically open is not really a problem for the UK but is a serious problem for the EU who dont want holes in their 'wall'.

          1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

            Re: thank you

            It may have escaped your notice but the Irish Republic is part of the EU. They joined when we did but they didn't leave.

            Why on Earth would the EU want to fence of part of itself? They didn't instigate this, the Brexiteers did and obviously considered that fencing off part of the UK as their logical solution was an acceptable price to pay.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: thank you

              He does have a point though. How would the EU have managed a border if the Republic of Ireland had joined the EU but the UK had never been a member? Well, obviously just as they do across the rest of the EU where it has land borders with non-EU states.

              Of course, it's all moot anyway because the Good Friday Agreement trumps everything and both the RoI and UK signed up for that and by extension, the EU.

              1. Lars Silver badge
                Coat

                Re: thank you

                @John Brown (no body)

                Yes that is "true" but also Ireland might not have applied for EU membership and the EU might not have accepted Ireland for that same reason.

                So it's a bit like with - if cows had wings.

                PS. The Americans feel strongly they signed up to that agreement too.

            2. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: thank you

              @Doctor Syntax

              "Why on Earth would the EU want to fence of part of itself?"

              Excellent, so why would the UK want to fence part of itself? So the EU is not responsible for UK borders and the UK is not responsible for EU borders. If the UK lets the border be where it is (in Ireland) then the EU can either come to some agreement or its not the UK's problem.

              "They didn't instigate this, the Brexiteers"

              Thats toys out of pram, nappy got wet, we dont care territory. If the EU is to be taken seriously in the world (as they wish they would be) then they need to put on their big boy pants and internally resolve the issue.

              "the Brexiteers did and obviously considered that fencing off part of the UK as their logical solution was an acceptable price to pay."

              Last I saw its the brexiteers wanting to scrap the unworkable arrangement while the Bino's made the situation and want it to continue.

              1. Roland6 Silver badge

                Re: thank you

                >Last I saw its the brexiteers wanting to scrap the unworkable arrangement while the Bino's made the situation and want it to continue.

                From memory, the hard-line Brexiteers in the conservative party proposed the arrangement and queued up and voted it into UK law, dismissing claims of its unworkability as project fear. Not sure how this counts as wanting to scrap the arrangement...

                I also note the Brexit Conservatives are still in power and have a sufficient majority to "take back control" and scrap the 'unworkable' arrangement if they so desired; which raises the question as to why they haven't...

                1. codejunky Silver badge

                  Re: thank you

                  @Roland6

                  "From memory, the hard-line Brexiteers in the conservative party proposed the arrangement"

                  From memory the hard line brexiteers wouldnt budge on the border to the vast frustration of the EU. As a result May stepped in and didnt want a complete brexit (trying to appease both sides pleasing none).

                  "Not sure how this counts as wanting to scrap the arrangement..."

                  The border being overly aggressively enforced by the EU to punish NI thankfully gives the UK plenty reason to rip up the agreement. Along with the EU forgetting about the arrangement during covidpanic.

                  "I also note the Brexit Conservatives are still in power and have a sufficient majority to "take back control" and scrap the 'unworkable' arrangement if they so desired; which raises the question as to why they haven't..."

                  I agree. They have been terribly slow moving at taking advantage of brexit. The good news is we are officially out, something voted for in 2016 yet was a long drawn out fight to actually get done in any form.

                  1. Anonymous Coward
                    Anonymous Coward

                    Re: thank you

                    "Good news"?

                    What good news? Businesses have more paperwork than ever to complete for import/export, and cost. We have shunned our right to partcipate in lawmaking that directly affects us on the continent - whether or not we are in the EU.

                    We have not resecured our borders (more boats than ever crossing the channel), eliminated legal immigration or kicked Mr. Singh back home (as was one of the arguments I heard a moron in Sunderland cite for being pro-Brexit)

                    We have stoked inflation, made it harder to fill lower-end jobs, screwed up logistics with manpower shortages.

                    Basically, everything every remoaner said would be a problem, is. And instead of getting on with it the incumbent leadership is indulging in some vanity contest over who gets to push the button while yet more crises of it's own creation bumble along.

                    No doubt you'll find some way to deny all of this in that blinkered little hole you live in.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: thank you

                  Roland6 "From memory, the hard-line Brexiteers in the conservative party proposed the arrangement and queued up and voted it into UK law, dismissing claims of its unworkability as project fear."

                  Brexit head-bangers could come home to find the ERG balls deep in the family dog, and Rover's plight would still somehow be the fault of remain-voters and/or the EU. Poor Rover. :-(

      2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: thank you

        One obvious solution.

        They could have a referendum

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: thank you

          @Yet Another Anonymous coward

          "They could have a referendum"

          The question is who. The UK had one and so brexit. NI could have one if they can muster support to then ask the people. So that leaves ROI who realistically could without leaving the EU and keeping trade open, or the EU who for the most part dont care (even their politicians who negotiated the Irish border during brexit 'forgot' about the border during the covid 'crisis').

          1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

            Re: thank you

            What sort of referendum in N Ireland could solve the problem of a border with "The South" ?

            For extra bonus points the unionists could then all move to Scotland and we could get that lot to go independent.

            Then it only leaves southern England to melt / sink into the waves / fall victim to a plague of zombie estate agents (delete as appropriate) and "Global Yorkshire" will be free.

            1. codejunky Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: thank you

              "What sort of referendum in N Ireland could solve the problem of a border with "The South" ?"

              Unification of course

              "For extra bonus points the unionists could then all move to Scotland and we could get that lot to go independent."

              Why would the unionists want Scotland to leave the UK? Or even want NI to split? There is also no reason for a neverendum with Scotland.

              "Then it only leaves southern England to melt / sink into the waves / fall victim to a plague of zombie estate agents (delete as appropriate) and "Global Yorkshire" will be free."

              That sounds almost as bad as what 'little England' was supposed to be when we didnt join the Euro and more recently from brexit.

              Btw I do appreciate your humorous posts. Dunno who downvoted you previously so balanced it out

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: thank you

                >Why would the unionists want Scotland to leave the UK

                That's why it would be so funny. They just get the pipes and drums unpacked I'm Glasgow and the SNP win.

                Not sure what happens afterwards but I think this aide of the Atlantic is the best place to watch from.

              2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

                Re: thank you

                "What sort of referendum in N Ireland could solve the problem of a border with "The South" ?"

                Unification of course

                And why should the north vote for that just to let Brexiteers off the hook.

                1. Roland6 Silver badge

                  Re: thank you

                  >And why should the north vote for that just to let Brexiteers off the hook.

                  Apart from the Unionist's, I doubt many will think much about the Brexiteers - EU regional development funding is likely to be poured on N.Ireland potentially in much the same way as it was in the south a few decades back - there will be more, with fewer strings attached and it will most probably actually materialise rather simply be repeatedly announced and postponed...

                  Also suspect Unification would remove or bypass the non-working of Stormont... and like the south move peoples eyes off London as being the power centre and gateway to the world.

            2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

              Re: thank you

              Then it only leaves southern England to melt / sink into the waves / fall victim to a plague of zombie estate agents (delete as appropriate) and "Global Yorkshire" will be free.

              This is an attractive idea but I'm not sure that the post-glacial rebound* is even still continuing and it would never have been enough for the sink beneath the waves option.

              * The weight of the Ice Age ice on Scotland, N England & N Ireland caused them to sink somewhat and sea levels fell due to the amount of water tied up in the ice cap When the ice melted sea levels rose quite quickly. The deformation recovered much more slowly but did recover. It gave time for Late glacial beaches to be formed which were then hoisted tens of feet higher giving rise to the phenomenon of raised beaches, readily visible around the coasts of N Ireland and Scotland if you know what you're looking for. But the S of England wasn't covered by ice so as the north was pressed down the south bulged up a bit and then when the rebound took place it sank slightly.

      3. Lars Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: thank you

        "Pick any two because all three together are impossible.".

        What about just sticking to what was agreed, cannot be that difficult.

        1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

          Re: thank you

          That is what any rational person would say. But the unionist side of NI are deeply unhappy (not that they are ever happy) and now realise they were shafted by the Torys who only really care about middle England voters who support them, not about the implications for NI (aggravating centuries of grievances and violence), Scotland (who majority wanted to stay in the EU), or Wales (who foolishly voted for Brexit even though many deprived areas got EU support that is now gone).

          https://www.statista.com/topics/3133/brexit-in-scotland/

          https://nation.cymru/news/wales-being-worst-hit-by-post-brexit-losses-of-eu-funding-research-shows/

        2. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: thank you

          > sticking to what was agreed

          That there would be no border with Eire = keep IRA happy

          That NI remains part of the UK = keep UVF happy

          That there is a border between the Eu and UK = keep the Eu happy

          Since the Eu are the only ones without guns.....

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: thank you

            Since the Eu are the only ones without guns, I know which I pick

            They are also a big trading partner, and if "hard Brexit" comes then many automotive industries will leave UK double-quick. At least those who have not already gone...

            1. codejunky Silver badge

              Re: thank you

              @Paul Crawford

              "They are also a big trading partner, and if "hard Brexit" comes then many automotive industries will leave UK double-quick. At least those who have not already gone..."

              I dont know if that was said during the Euro debate but sounds familiar from the brexit debate and resurrected now I assume in hope it might eventually prove true?

            2. Pascal Monett Silver badge

              Re: if "hard Brexit" comes

              I think that ship has already sailed.

              Brexit is as hard as it's going to be, and you are stuck with it.

              1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

                Re: if "hard Brexit" comes

                >Brexit is as hard as it's going to be,

                I think "Getting Brexit done" now involves capturing Harfleur

        3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: thank you

          "What about just sticking to what was agreed, cannot be that difficult."

          I'm not sure which agreement you mean.

          The Good Friday Agreement was for no hard border in the island of Ireland which worked because both N & S were in the EU.

          The withdrawal agreement left NI effectively in the EU whilst Britain left.

          The agreement by which the Irish Republic became independent of Britain whilst the six northern counties remained in UK (full name The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland).

          Any two are mutually consistent, the three are not. This simple piece of logic may have not have given rise to a problem in Brexiteer's heads but in reality it's been a problem since day one. Brexit done? Only if you shut your eyes to reality.

          1. EvilDrSmith

            Re: thank you

            The Good Friday agreement does not require explicitly no hard border in the island of Ireland.

            Some claim it's implied, but it is not actually specified in the text.

            The Good Friday agreement does require that there are no changes to the status of Northern Ireland relative to the UK without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland.

            The withdrawal agreement by treating Northern Ireland differently to the rest if the UK breaks that requirement not to treat NI differently from the rest of the UK.

            So the Good Friday Agreement and the Withdrawal agreement are in fact not mutually consistent.

            1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

              Re: thank you

              A deeply cynical UK govt could declare that the imaginary line WAS the border but simply not enforce it. The UK can easily stop waves of migrants by the various airlines and ferries requiring ID for purely marketing purposes.

              The Irish govt would be responsible for securing the Eu border as required by their Eu membership. If they weren't able to do this for whatever reason, the Eu has a border force it can deploy

            2. Shades

              Re: thank you

              Let's take a little look at that...

              AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND AND THE GOVERNMENT OF IRELAND

              [...]

              RIGHTS, SAFEGUARDS AND EQUALITY OF OPPORTUNITY.

              Human Rights

              1. The parties affirm their commitment to the mutual respect, the civil rights and the religious liberties of everyone in the community. Against the background of the recent history of communal conflict, the parties affirm in particular:

              [...]

              • the right to freely choose one’s place of residence;

              Can't do that with a hard border.

              [...]

              • the right to equal opportunity in all social and economic activity, regardless of class, creed, disability, gender or ethnicity;

              Can't do that with a hard border either.

              [...]

              Economic, Social and Cultural Issues

              [...]

              2. Subject to the public consultation currently under way, the British Government will make rapid progress with:

              (i) a new regional development strategy for Northern Ireland, for consideration in due course by a the Assembly, tackling the problems of a divided society and social cohesion in urban, rural and border areas

              Can't tackle societal division and social cohesion in border areas with a hard border between the two.

              SECURITY

              1. The participants note that the development of a peaceful environment on the basis of this agreement can and should mean a normalisation of security arrangements and practices.

              The normalisation of security arrangements is what it is now. Re-introducing a hard border would now be an "un-normalisation" of security arrangements.

              2. The British Government will make progress towards the objective of as early a return as possible to normal security arrangements in Northern Ireland, consistent with the level of threat and with a published overall strategy, dealing with:

              [...]

              (ii) the removal of security installations;

              Any border installation is a de facto "security installation".

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Science superpower - my arse

    Para 55 of the report:

    "We note that the minister responsible for science has not been a full member of cabinet since the remit was split from that of universities in 2020. There have been six changes in the minister in charge of science since 2018. At the time of writing, there was no science minister in post and it was unclear whether one would be appointed."

    Looking at the parade of mediocrities currently engaged in the "All England Summarise Proust Competition", I can't see anything changing in the near future. We are still a leading nation in science & technology, just about, but like the NHS and the military, that's based on stretching things increasingly thin and papering over the cracks. On the international stage our unfriendly competitors are confident they can ignore us, and those we hope to call allies are starting to wonder how much they can rely on us.

    Sigh.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Science superpower - my arse

      There are no votes in science

  8. hammarbtyp

    Is it a bird...

    The only superpower Brexit bestows is the ability to repeatable punch ourselves in the face....

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Is it a bird...

      No you can't get the staff. British workers don't want to punch themselves in the face for these wages.

      If we can no longer import cheap foreign workers willing to punch Brits in the face for long hours at minimum wage

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    no "specific, measurable outcomes", no delivery plan, a short-termist outlook...

    is it a summary for brexit?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: no "specific, measurable outcomes", no delivery plan, a short-termist outlook...

      well, a whole package, the plan, delivery and outcome.

    2. nematoad Silver badge
      Unhappy

      Re: no "specific, measurable outcomes", no delivery plan, a short-termist outlook...

      "...specific, measurable outcomes"

      Well we got blue passports and the crown on our pint glasses, so that is some sort of outcome.

      Mind you we could have had those things whilst we were part of the EU so that does devalue the "benefits" a little.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: no "specific, measurable outcomes", no delivery plan, a short-termist outlook...

        Don't forget the imperial weight & measures! So much winning I'm tired if it!

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: no "specific, measurable outcomes", no delivery plan, a short-termist outlook...

          Just think of the market for new periodic tables with imperial masses

  10. Lordrobot

    Part of BREXIT was to become Self-Sufficient

    Enjoy... Mockery from Dublin at no extra charge...

    1. nematoad Silver badge

      Re: Part of BREXIT was to become Self-Sufficient

      Why should Dublin bother to mock the UK.

      It's not them in the shit regarding science funding.

      More like a satisfied smile as scientists and departments move out of Britain. Some might like to move to the Republic of Ireland, I know I did when I was lucky enough to work there.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Part of BREXIT was to become Self-Sufficient

        I'd happily see UK territory, including the home island join the Republic. The UK is not Westminister and most of us I think would rather ditch the omnishambles that the latter has degenerated into.

  11. sarusa

    Have to actually ditch Boris first

    Johnson has been a complete disaster for UK science. Getting rid of him won't guarantee a fix, but there will certainly be no improvement until the door hits him in the ass.

    But still, you can't just declare you'll be a 'superpower' in anything in 7 years and make it happen. It takes decades of foundation building. Even China's been very hit or miss on targeted industries, and they have a far, FAR more coherent and competent approach than Westminister ever could.

    1. Handy Plough

      Re: Have to actually ditch Boris first

      "Johnson has been a complete disaster for [the] UK." is all you need to say.

      For those that voted for these idiots, I'd normally offer a smug "I told you so", but the disastrous outcome makes it too depressing to say.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Have to actually ditch Boris first

        "Hold my Beer" : Liz Truss

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In the energy industry, the regulators have been bigging up the list of R&D programmes that private companies are running.

    A cursory look down the list makes it very clear that at least half are utter tripe. The citizens advice bureau would do well to look closely at the list to see the waste. The reason the private operators are doing a lot of them anyway is mostly to burn the allowances set in those sectors. Use-it-or-lose-it mechanics.

    Dropping the rubbish wouldn’t meaningfully alter bills, but better projects targeting what’s really needed could.

    Innovation is meant to be BAU. If we were setting our own agenda instead of a seriously misguided one by a failed zombie government we’d be investing in a very different list. We also would not have the quantity of red tape that probably costs more than the R&D programme to complete either.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    So tired of this "Superpower" crap

    This line gets trotted out regularly especially by Conservative Governments

    AI Superpower, Tech superpower, Science superpower, I think it's to please the flag waving "bring back the Empire" mob

    To become a superpower needs a realistic plan of action you actually implement, legislation to help enable it and most of all funding.

    Talk is cheap and rarely backed up by cash and concerted action.

    They kind of remind me of "The Peoples Front of Judea" in Monty Python's Life of Brian

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Perhaps the powers that be should take a look at China. Maybe 80 to 90% of academic papers relating to the energy industry are being published there.

    UK used to be a world leader in said industry, until we privatised it.

    Obviously innovation is more than academic papers being spammed out, but it's one possible measure of many. There'a a reason we have to import equipment for most jobs in the energy sector today.

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