By Judith Vonberg
LONDON (CBS/CNN) — British scientist Stephen Hawking fears he “may not be welcome” in the United States now that Donald Trump is president.
In an interview with ITV’s Good Morning Britain on Monday, Hawking described President Trump’s election as “a definite swing to a right-wing” and a “more authoritarian approach.”
He was especially critical of the appointment of Scott Pruitt, “a man who does not believe that carbon dioxide causes climate change,” as head of the Environmental Protection Agency.
“He should replace Scott Pruitt at the Environment Protection Agency,” Hawking told ITV.
“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent,” he said.
“It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for [Trump’s] second term, God forbid.”
He suggested that the appointment of Pruitt, as well as the promise of a border wall and the sanctioning of two oil pipelines, are designed to “satisfy [Trump’s] electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed.”
“I have many friends and colleagues [in the U.S.] and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways,” he said, “but I fear that I may not be welcome.”
His comments about the president echo those he made in May last year, before Trump became the Republican nominee. At the time, Hawking described Trump as “a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
Brexit will leave UK ‘isolated’
In Monday’s wide ranging interview, Hawking also had harsh words for Britons who voted to leave the European Union in last year’s Brexit referendum.
“A main worry for the British people was the feeling that Eastern Europe migration would take their jobs and undercut their wages,” he said. “The majority voted accordingly and I see this as short-sighted.”
A “hard Brexit” would “leave us isolated and inward looking,” he said.
“A few people will get mega rich as is often the case but the majority will be poorer.”
Trip to space on the horizon
Turning to lighter matters, Hawking also spoke about the prospect of going into space.
“I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space. I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately.”
Asked if he believed he was the most intelligent person in the world, he gave a sharp response: “I would never claim this. People who boast about their IQ are losers.”
Hawking was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.
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