Professional misogynist Donald Trump may not be familiar with the term “Brexit,” though he recently reiterated his support for it. If that gigantic red flag isn’t big enough for you, on Sunday night’s edition of Last Week Tonight host John Oliver dedicated his main story to Brexit—the EU referendum on Thursday where the UK will vote on whether or not it will stay in the EU.
Needless to say, he does not agree with Donald.
“A Brexit—or British Exit—could have wide-ranging implications both for the UK and the world’s economy,” said Oliver.
The European Union is, of course, the political and economic union of 28 European countries. EU member countries abide by trade deals, enact laws, and allow for the free movement of people, services, and goods between them. Despite being a member, Britain has always had what Oliver calls an “arm’s-length relationship with the EU,” including not using its currency and calling out its officials.
“The EU is not perfect: it’s large, confounding, and relentless bureaucratic. Think of it like Gerard Depardieu: it’s an unwieldy European body that’s a source of great bewilderment. But Britain leaving it would be a huge destabilizing decision, so we would expect the Brexit camp to have some pretty solid arguments. Unfortunately, many of them are bullshit,” said Oliver.
He pointed to former London Mayor Boris Johnson, who’s been riding around the country in a red bus with a message on the side saying the UK sends the EU £350 million a week.
“That number has been thoroughly debunked,” claimed Oliver. “It’s actually about £190 million a week when you consider a rebate the UK receives and other money that the EU sends back—on top of which, if Britain does leave the EU, it has to spend close to that amount just to access the common market.”
There’s also the fact that President Obama, China, Japan, India, and the EU itself are all against Brexit, and groups like the British Treasury, the Bank of England, the IMF, the OECD, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Oxford Economics all predict that Brexit would have a negative effect on the British GDP. “If leaving is so universally seen as a bad idea, then who the fuck is in favor of it?” exclaimed Oliver, before introducing his American viewers to the leading group backing Brexit: the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
UKIP is led by Nigel Farage, a far right-wing politician with a rich history of raging against the EU machine, and like many UKIP members, Farage is noteworthy for his hardline anti-immigration views (similar to Trump's). The Brexit debate took a dark turn this past week when Jo Cox, a British Labour Party politician who was campaigning for Britain to remain in the EU, was stabbed and shot to death by a madman who reportedly yelled “Britain first” during the attack—a reference, it seems, to the far-right Britain First party that is anti-multiculturalism and strongly supports Brexit. “UKIP argued that a Brexit would enable the UK to significantly reduce immigration, preventing both EU citizens from taking British jobs and non-EU citizens from sneaking in to commit terror attacks. And they have not but subtle in their campaign, with toxic posters like this one showing lines of refugees and the headline ‘Breaking Point,’” said Oliver. “It is hard for me to overstate to you how poisonous things have become in England. Just this week, MP Jo Cox was killed in the street, and the man charged for it gave his name in court as, ‘Death to traitors, freedom for Britain.’ And in that cauldron, people are being asked to make a major political decision.”
The reality with Brexit is that even with it, Britain probably wouldn’t even get to administer serious changes to their immigration policy since if they want to remain a part of the single market—which they’d presumably want to—then they’d have to keep allowing goods, services, and laborers to move freely from UK to the EU. “To recap: immigration policy may not change, hysteria over regulation is a red herring, the cost of membership are reasonable, and the economic benefits of staying appear to outweigh the cost, and yet, polls suggest my homeland is on the edge of doing something absolutely insane,” said Oliver, pointing to a recent Financial Times’ poll saying that those who support Brexit and those that don’t are about even. “Here is how I feel about the EU: it’s a complicated, bureaucratic, ambitious, overbearing, inspirational, and consistently irritating institution, and Britain would be absolutely crazy to leave it especially because, if it stays, it can reap all the benefits while still being a total dick about everything,” added Oliver. “And that’s the British way.”