A group of 13 Nobel Prize winning scientists say that a Brexit would risk putting the UK's place steering the EU scientific powerhouse in jeopardy. The group believe that leaving the EU poses a "key risk" to British science affecting science funding and policy.

The Nobel Laureates argue that within the EU the UK has greater scientific influence on the world stage and that the free movements of experts created "scientific agility" allowing the world's finest minds to collaborate.

The group includes 'God particle' founder Peter Higgs, who predicted the existence of the Higgs boson particle, geneticist Sir Paul Nurse, stem cell researcher Sir Martin Evans, and physicist Sir Andre Geim.

They say in a letter published in the Daily Telegraph: "Inside the EU, Britain helps steer the biggest scientific powerhouse in the world. The EU contains a critical mass of expertise, with more than one in five of the world's researchers moving freely within its boundaries.

"EU decisions about scientific policy, funding and regulatory frameworks affect science the world over, and are influenced by British scientists. On the inside, Britain has access to people and funding and wields global scientific influence, far greater than we have alone.

"Science thrives on permeability of ideas and people, and flourishes in environments that pool intelligence, minimise barriers, and are open to free exchange and collaboration."

The group says that science should be "front and centre in the EU debate" as they help to foster better health, innovation and economic growth.

The news comes as billionaire inventor and entrepreneur Sir James Dyson says that the UK would gain more from leaving the EU than it lost. Dyson added that the belief Britain could not trade successfully outside the EU was "absolute cobblers".

Inside the UK government the Commons Science and Technology Committee said the Britain benefited "significantly" from EU science research money and that a Brexit would mean other sources of funding would need to be sought.

According to a Nature poll in March this year 83% of researchers living in the EU were in favour of the UK remaining in the EU. Prof Stephen Hawking has also spoken of his belief that the UK should remain saying that a Brexit would be a "disaster for UK science".

In response Vote Leave said it was a "myth" that science funding came from Brussels. A spokesman for Vote Leave said to the BBC: "The biggest myth in this campaign is that money that funds our universities, our farmers comes from a magical money tree in Brussels.

"There is no such thing as EU money - it is all paid for by British taxpayers as part of the three hundred and fifty million pounds sent to Brussels every week."

Higgs Boson
Professor Peter Higgs won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2013 for predicting the existence of the Higgs boson particle that explains how elementary matter attained the mass to form stars and planets Reuters