Hawk­ing: ‘I fear I may not be wel­come in Trump’s US’

The Guardian - - NATIONAL - Robert Booth

Stephen Hawk­ing, the lead­ing Bri­tish physi­cist and cos­mol­o­gist, has said he no longer feels wel­come in the US un­der Don­ald Trump.

Hawk­ing is a re­cip­i­ent of the US’s pres­ti­gious Franklin medal for sci­ence and re­ceived the pres­i­den­tial medal of free­dom from Barack Obama in 2009. But he has spo­ken out about his fears of the US’s “def­i­nite swing to a rightwing, more au­thor­i­tar­ian ap­proach”.

“I would like to visit again and to talk to other sci­en­tists, but I fear that I may not be wel­come,” he says in an in­ter­view with Good Morn­ing Bri­tain to­day.

The 75-year-old Cam­bridge sci­en­tist said he was par­tic­u­larly con­cerned about Trump’s en­vi­ron­ment pol­icy. “He should re­place Scott Pruitt at the En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency,” he said. “Cli­mate change is one of the great dan­gers we face, and it’s one we can pre­vent. It af­fects Amer­ica badly, so tack­ling it should win votes for his sec­ond term. God for­bid.”

Hawk­ing has pre­vi­ously de­scribed Trump as “a dem­a­gogue”.

“Trump was elected by peo­ple who felt dis­en­fran­chised by the gov­ern­ing elite in a re­volt against glob­al­i­sa­tion,” he told ITV1’s break­fast pro­gramme. “His pri­or­ity will be to sat­isfy his elec­torate, who are nei­ther lib­eral nor that well in­formed.”

But Hawk­ing said he saw signs of hope for the world in the rise of women to pow­er­ful po­si­tions in pub­lic life and re­vealed his ex­cite­ment at the pos­si­bil­ity of send­ing tiny ro­bots into space to in­ves­ti­gate earth­like plan­ets tril­lions of miles away.

Asked about the as­cent of Theresa May, Ni­cola Stur­geon and Cres­sida Dick, the new com­mis­sioner of the Metropoli­tan po­lice, along­side other pow­er­ful women, he said: “If we fac­tor in high-pow­ered women in Europe as well, such as An­gela Merkel, it seems we are wit­ness­ing a seis­mic shift for women to ac­cede to high­level po­si­tions in pol­i­tics and so­ci­ety. But there may still be a gap be­tween those women achiev­ing high pub­lic sta­tus and those in the pri­vate sec­tor. I wel­come these signs of women’s lib­er­a­tion.”

When asked whether the Nasa space pro­gramme should be restarted fol­low­ing the dis­cov­ery of new plan­ets, Hawk­ing said: “The re­cently dis­cov­ered sys­tem of seven Earth-sized plan­ets is 39 light years away. With cur­rent tech­nol­ogy there is no way we can travel that far.

“The best we can en­vis­age is ro­botic nanocraft pushed by giant lasers to 20% of the speed of light. These nanocraft weigh a few grams and would take about 240 years to reach their des­ti­na­tion and send pic­tures back. It is fea­si­ble and is some­thing that I am very ex­cited about.”

On Bri­tish pol­i­tics, Hawk­ing said he felt that a hard Brexit should be re­sisted, with the UK re­tain­ing strong links with the EU and China. And he warned that Labour, which he backed at the 2015 gen­eral elec­tion, would not win the next elec­tion un­der Jeremy Cor­byn: “He doesn’t come across as a strong leader, and he al­lowed the me­dia to por­tray him as a left­wing ex­trem­ist, which he’s not.”

Stephen Hawk­ing has pre­vi­ously called the US pres­i­dent a dem­a­gogue

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