A couple of hours in Westminster

My workplace union has been putting effort into representing members on the issue of Brexit. Like asking for the government to guarantee the rights of currently resident EU workers; this sort of thing:

  • guaranteed rights for EU nationals already working in the UK to remain here
  • continued international mobility for scientists and engineers, including for UK citizens to work in other EU countries

its all very sensible, of course.

As part of their campaign they put together a useful booklet. It brings together some personal pieces about Brexit implications for folk’s UK science. Having been told about the booklet plan, I wrote a piece in Autumn 2016, and the booklet was launched Tuesday this week. So, I got to go to Westminster..

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How exciting – I hadn’t been before. Around 10 of the booklet contributers met at the Union HQ – where our organiser suggested that I speak to the Guridian. They wanted to cover the launch event. Here’s their effort..

One of the slightly weird things about the day was that we were asked for the photos not to smile. Who would want to be seen smiling about Brexit and the Implications for Science?Practicing not smiling:

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Looking grim. On the Train.

The actual meeting itself wasn’t grim though. In fact the energy and ability of our invited Select Committee MP speakers was extraordinary. They spoke extremely well  – regardless of their clear lack of enthusiasm for Brexit – and were charmingly keen to corner us climate scientists once their brief speeches were over.

They particularly liked narratives that might support their attempts at policy change. Whilst I dont think mine was strong enough to provide any significant help – a couple of them nevertheless said that they liked the mix of coverage of the Science + Personal in my piece. Likely not surprising to those who know about these things, but new to me.

Other stuff that I learned from the day

I learned: where Prospect HQ is; how to get into Westminster; that I like talking to MPs :-); something about making effective speeches; how to get changed (quickly!) into a Westminster-y dress in the loos [1]; and that, whilst I do enjoy days out, I also rather like working in my office with my own research group – at least in comparison to life as a politician. It seems you need to be tough to make it out there.

Anyway, it was good – and I picked up a couple of useful newspaper and MP contacts too.

Footnotes:

[1] I had cycled; putting on yer mascara and little black work dress is best done later.

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