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