Last week, British Labour Party politician and parliament member Jo Cox was brutally murdered — allegedly because of her stance on the country’s upcoming “Brexit” vote. Otherwise known as the United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, the so-called “Brexit” decision will determine whether the U.K. leaves the European Union, a bureaucratic and economic alliance of countries it’s been a part of since 1973. (Back then, it was called the European Community.) As Cox’s death suggests, the Brexit is a hotly contested issue — so much so that Last Week Tonight host and British citizen John Oliver decided to chime in during Sunday’s deep-dive segment.
Heinous though it may be, the public murder of a politician isn’t the only reason people outside the U.K. and the E.U. should be paying attention. Hence the main thrust of Oliver’s segment, which explains “a ‘Brexit,’ or ‘British exit,’ could have wide-ranging implications — both to the U.K., and the world’s economy. The comedian’s preference for his homeland’s remaining a member country isn’t subtle, and his latest efforts join those of other British celebrities like Keira Knightley, Patrick Stewart, Benedict Cumberbatch and others who’ve campaigned on behalf of political efforts to vote remain. Unlike his counterparts, however, the former Daily Show correspondent’s treatment of the subject is, well, much like his appreciation of Donald Trump’s heritage.
“You would expect the ‘Brexit’ camp to have some pretty solid arguments,” Oliver quips. “Unfortunately many of them are bullsh*t.” Like the popular economic argument made by former London Mayor Boris Johnson and others who believe the U.K. wastes £350 million a week on membership costs. False, for as Oliver reminds his viewers, it’s more like £190 million a week thanks to a rebate issued by the E.U., and money sent to the U.K. from other member countries.
Oliver spends most of the 10 minutes that follow disputing “facts” reported by pro-leave British politicians, campaigners and citizens — many of which are, unsurprisingly, spurred by racist, nationalist sentiments. Yet the icing on the cake is the host’s final point that, despite the messy bureaucratic nature of the E.U., the U.K. should remain — but that doesn’t mean Brits have to like it. To illustrate this, a British chorale led by a prepubescent boy sings Last Week Tonight‘s entry for the annual “Europe in Harmony” song contest, which asks for video submissions set to Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.” And yes, most of it was bleeped by HBO.