World renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking no longer believes there is a place for him in the United States thanks to the election of President Donald Trump.
When the topic of Trump arose, Hawking was quick to articulate that he viewed Trump’s presidency as “a definite swing to a right-wing” and a “more authoritarian approach.”
“I have many friends and colleagues [in the United States] and it is still a place I like and admire in many ways,” he said, “but I fear that I may not be welcome.”
Hawking has expressed criticism for Trump before — notably last year before Trump was declared the Republican nominee, at which time Hawking described him as “a demagogue, who seems to appeal to the lowest common denominator.”
In his recent interview Hawking described Trump’s voters as “people who felt disenfranchised by the governing elite in a revolt against globalization.”
“His priority will be to satisfy his electorate, who are neither liberal nor that well-informed,” Hawking said.
When asked about Trump’s controversial Muslim ban Hawking said, “His travel ban brands as Islamic State terrorists, all citizens of six mainly Muslim countries, but not including America’s allies such as Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, which allegedly help finance [the] Islamic State. This blanket ban is inefficient and prevents America [from] recruiting skilled people from these countries. To be effective it should be replaced by a more selective, intelligence-based approach. But again, I fear this may not happen as Trump continues to appease his electorate.”
Hawking’s critique on Monday rested largely on the appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency. He was quick to quip that Pruitt is “a man who does not believe that carbon dioxide causes climate change.”
“Climate change is one of the great dangers we face, and it’s one we can prevent,” the professor said. “It affects America badly, so tackling it should win votes for [Trump’s] second term, God forbid.”
The physicist said his message to the president would be to replace Pruitt as head of the EPA.
In addition to his opinions and concerns about American politics, Hawking also turned his harsh criticism toward his native Britons, who voted in favor of leaving the European Union during last year’s Brexit referendum. Hawking’s worries lied primarily in the belief that the majority vote was a knee-jerk reaction to increased Eastern European migration.
“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.” Further, a “hard Brexit” would “leave us isolated and inward looking,” he said, suggesting the British “retain as many links as possible with Europe and the rest of the world.”
He also predicted, “If we pay ourselves more than is justified by our productivity, our exports won’t compete. This will lead to a fall in the value of the pound, which in turn will cause inflation and … great problems. A few people will get mega rich as is often the case but the majority will be poorer.”
Former U.K. Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage’s use of anti-immigration rhetoric and Islamophobia while fanning the fears of white, working-class Britons closely mirrored Trump’s own fear-mongering strategies that began in his campaign and have since continued during his first several weeks as president.
Trump at the time expressed his support for Brexit, saying the British “took back their country.”
“That’s a good thing,” Trump said at the time.
In a lighter segment of the interview, Hawking shared his plans to join business mogul, Sir Richard Branson, on his Virgin Galactic commercial spacecraft.
“I have already completed a zero gravity flight which allowed me to float weightless, but my ultimate ambition is to fly into space,” Hawking shared. “I thought no one would take me but Richard Branson has offered me a seat on Virgin Galactic and I said yes immediately.”