12 January 2021
What is Talking Point?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's Question: What problems/opportunities do you foresee arising in Cambridge(shire) as a result of the free movement of people, goods and services between the EU and the UK coming to an end on January 1?
In the 2016 referendum Cambridge voted by a large margin not to abandon the free movement of people, goods and services. Now that this change has been forced upon us we will begin to see the baleful effects of this narrow minded and retrogressive step. Here in Cambridge we will probably have even more reason than most cities to mourn the loss of these important freedoms.
We have two universities in our city. Higher education is a major export earner for the UK as a whole and every university benefits from the talents of staff and students from overseas. Making this free exchange more difficult can only harm the sector, and by extension the UK economy.
The University of Cambridge is one of the world’s leading universities. Twenty years ago it was battling it out with Harvard and other top US universities for the number one spot in the world rankings. Cambridge along with other British universities, continue to punch above their weight, compared with their much richer North American cousins, but this cannot be maintained forever, and already the effects are beginning to show.
Ending free movement will be a disaster for our universities and, by extension, for our city as well. 65% of Cambridge University’s postgraduate students come from outside the UK. They won’t all stop coming because of Brexit, but the additional barriers will make it more difficult and make the UK a less attractive place for them to come.
Cambridge University has been particularly successful in attracting EU research funding and this has supported our international profile.
In the rankings, this may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The loss of funding and students, along with access to the Erasmus exchange programme, threatens the loss of the crucial edge we need to succeed.
Our response was written Jeremy Caddick. Jeremy was the MP Candidate for Cambridge in the 2019 General Election. He has lived in Cambridge for more than 25 years and is the Dean and Chaplain at one of the Colleges in Cambridge University. He campaigns for the University to cut its links with fossil fuel companies.