John Oliver explains Brexit for Americans
john oliver

The Last Week Tonight host slams “bulls***” Brexit arguments, highlighting several major concerns with the campaign

With the much-ballyhooed E.U. referendum now only three days away, and many still apparently confused as to what the overall impact of potentially leaving the E.U. could mean for Britain, it’s fair to say that some of the decidedly shaky arguments aren’t exactly helping matters.

Thankfully, for those who are still struggling to make sense it all, John Oliver was on hand to mercilessly tear apart some of the more bizarre arguments put forward by the Brexit camp, perhaps predictably starting with (though hardly reserved to) former Mayor of London Boris Johnson. A man who, as Oliver delicately puts it, “has both the look and the economic insight of Bam Bam from The Flintstones.”

What follows is a typically scathing assault on some of Johnson’s more suspect (or, as Oliver deems them, “bulls***”) arguments for leaving the European Union. Many feel it’s a tall-enough order to take Johnson seriously at the best of times; it’s nigh-impossible when he’s parading around the nation in a big red bus with “We Send The E.U. £350 Million a Week” printed on the side, above the rather catchy slogan “Let’s Take Back Control.”

As many were quick to point out at the unveiling of Boris’ new mode of transport, having seemingly given up the bike until the referendum is out of the way, the figure is actually closer to around £190 million when one takes into account the money that the E.U. sends back to Britain. Moreover, should Britain leave, we may still end up having to fork out a hefty chunk of change just to access the common market.

In light of this, Oliver rather helpfully suggests an alternative slogan for Johnson’s bus, reading: “We actually send the E.U. £190 million a week, which as a proportion of our GDP, makes sound fiscal sense. In fact, considering the benefits we reap in return… Oh s***, we’re running out of bus. Okay, bye-bye!”

Oliver then proceeds to play an excerpt from the roundly lampooned, crowd-funded Brexit campaign video, imaginatively titled Brexit: The Movie. The clip shows, in the words of the film’s own voiceover, “…regulated E.U. man waking from his regulated slumber to start his regulated day” before describing how “Regulated E.U. Man’s” pillow is apparently subjected to 109 laws in the European Union.

After blowing up the onscreen text displaying the evil pillow-regulating legislation, he shows, to the obvious delight of his audience,  that most have nothing to do with pillows. In fact, one item listed under the legislation entailed an item that “looked like a sex doll for a platypus.”

Unfortunately for the Brexit camp’s credibility, Oliver did not stop there. While leading Brexit campaigner and UKIP leader Nigel Farage ceaselessly argues that leaving the E.U. would give Britain control over its borders, the host quickly pointed out that that, “…if Britain wants a good trade deal with the E.U. then it’s probably going to have to abide by its rules; the same goes for all those hypothetically cumbersome, non-pillow related pillow laws.”

In spite of all these arguments, however, it is worth noting that at present the polls are very much neck and neck as to whether Britain should “remain” or “leave” the E.U.

Oliver himself even admits that he does see the appeal of leaving the E.U., as “…there is an innate British desire to tell Europe to go f*** itself. I feel it too.”, before taking this point further and rapidly criticising many other E.U. member states such as Germany (“Where the national motto is: let’s stick to the present, shall we?”), Belgium (“the casual acquaintance France crops out of its Instagram photos.”), and Luxembourg (“What would happen if you left Lichtenstein out in the sun too long.”)

Whether or not this “innate innate British desire” will be enough to swing the results in Brexit’s favour is, of course, something we shall all discover on Thursday, after waking from our “regulated slumbers” which the Leave campaign hopes will be regulated no more.

After all, as certain aspects of this campaign have proven, “Not everything sounds smarter in a British accent.”


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