Brexit U-turn: UK poised to scrap home project and send EU £15bn as Truss drops A16 threat

Liz Truss confirms UK's attendance at EU Foreign Affairs Council

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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Ms Truss to rethink her negotiations with the bloc. The Foreign Secretary has written to the Prime Minister outlining plans that will help prevent a rift with the EU at a time when international unity is paramount due to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Article 16, one of the key clauses of the UK’s Brexit agreement, allows either side to take unilateral action if the protocol is causing “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

Dropping this threat is reportedly seen by Ms Truss as a way to avoid a confrontation with the EU.

But it could also pave the way for the UK to be admitted to the EU’s Horizon Europe programme – a move that will cost £15billion over seven years.

The bloc previously told Britain it could not participate until it resolves the Brexit disputes with the EU.

Researchers and institutions who were promised they could access the huge £80billion pool of funding and collaborate with European partners were left furious by the decision.

Ms Truss’s letter to Mr Johnson is understood to have set out two possible options.

The first option is bringing an abrupt end to ongoing negotiations and triggering Article 16 now.

The other is holding off enacting it and instead deploying an economic stimulus package to help firms that lose out due to the NI Protocol.

This comes as the Government yesterday announced a huge £40billion budget for Research and Development (R&D) across various scientific and technological sectors.

BBC Science Correspondent Jonathan Amos shared how the allocation would be handled on Twitter.

He said: “The Government has now confirmed how the £39.8bn R&D budget for 2022-25 will be allocated.”

Most of this budget was allocated to the UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), which is the Government body that directs research and innovation funding.

UKRI will receive £25.1 billion during this period, and the body is funded through the science budget of the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

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The UK Space Agency gets the second largest piece of the pie, being poised to received £1.7 billion over the next three years.

Mr Amos continued: “Here’s the full R&D list published by BEIS.

“Once again, the promise is made that if Horizon association is not possible, the allocated funds will stay in UK science.

“Still waiting for a similar commitment on Copernicus.”

The UK was also meant to take part in the EU’s Copernicus project in December 2020, but its access was blocked over political Brexit disputes with the bloc.

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