Last Week Tonight took on the important, but under-discussed (at least on this side of the pond) issue of Britain's proposed exit from the European Union. Commonly referred to by the catchy name "Brexit", the issue will be voted on in a nationwide referendum on Thursday, and host John Oliver had more than a few concerns about the proposal to discuss with viewers.
Before launching into the show's main segment, however, Oliver took a few moments to talk about the aftermath of the Orlando shooting. A lot of the conversation, especially from the right, has focused on the shooter's background, with Trump using this horrible tragedy as a way to push his own anti-refugee opinions. In response, Oliver highlighted the fact that the shooter was born in Queens, New York, just eight miles away from Donald Trump's own birthplace.
The left has also used the tragedy as a way to reignite conversations about gun control laws with a filibuster on the senate floor aiming to increase background checks and to prevent people on the terrorist watch list from procuring weapons. Oliver pointed out that while public opinion tends to be in favour of these minor amendments to gun control legislation, it is extremely unlikely that those measures will ever pass. The reason: the power of the NRA. They have 3 million fewer members than Planet Fitness, but have been able to motivate their membership into action.
The NRA has even blocked legislation allowing the Center for Disease Control to study gun violence, resulting a gun control conversation lacking in important information. Many Republicans insist that there is "no proof" that increased gun control would reduce the number of mass shootings, but obtaining any type of evidence is exceptionally difficult. Before Americans are able to have an informed discussion about what should and shouldn't be done, they need to be armed with relevant, factual information about gun violence in the United States - information that the NRA has consistently put out of their reach. Even the man who initiated the legislation, Jay Dickey, reducing funding and removing the ability to conduct research in this very important area wants that legislation repealed to help both sides have informed talks about this vital issue. Oliver proposed that this be the focus of current conversation - to have the information required in order to proceed with these types of conversations. He encouraged viewers to call their representatives again and again and again, and tell them to repeal the legislation. There does appear to be more Americans in favour of some form of increased control than there are NRA members, and Oliver speculated that the way to have the Dickey amendment repealed is to mobilize them just as the NRA mobilizes their membership. He reminded viewers that repealing the Dickey amendment is not gun control, it would "enable us to have an informed conversation on what that could look like".
Last Week Tonight's main segment dealt with the proposed British exit from the European Union. Oliver acknowledged that many people outside of the United Kingdom may not care about the outcome "as long as those crooked tooth scone goblins keep shooting out royal babies and episodes of Doctor Who". However, the outcome of Thursday's vote could have far reaching repercussions for the world's economy, not just that of the UK.
Despite the fact that leaving the European Union would almost certainly affect the day to day lives of everyone living in the UK, the parties advocating for the Brexit don't exactly have compelling arguments that hold up to evaluation. One popular argument advocated by some politicians, including Boris Johnson, "a man with both the look and economic insight of Bam Bam from The Flintstones", is that leaving would put 350 million pounds per week back in the British economy. However, the actual number is closer to 190 pounds per week, which would have to be spent to access the market if Britain were to leave.
Another argument used by politicians in favour of leaving is the many regulations the EU has in place. They even produced a movie, in part discussing the numerous regulations in place regarding pillows. However, when examined more closely, it was revealed that many of the regulations referred to in the actually dealt with unrelated matters and simply used the word "pillow" somewhere in the body text. Oliver also pointed out that even if Britain were to leave the EU, they'd still be bound to comply with those regulations in order to maintain trade relations.
A number of countries and economic organizations have cautioned Britain about what would happen if they were to leave, detailing the adverse economic effect leaving would have on Britain's GDP. Despite these warnings, many politicians from UKIP, a British political party, are still in favour of the exit. UKIP has taken a strong anti-immigration position, and has had many members participate in "outright racism". In many cases, these racist statements have been defended by the UKIP leader.
Oliver ended the segment by acknowledging the "innate British desire to tell Europe to go fuck itself". While the EU may be hard to love, the benefits of staying greatly outweigh those for leaving. In that light, Oliver presented Last Week Tonight's late contribution to an EU contest in which they asked members to submit videos set to their theme song, "Ode To Joy". While the EU contest had already closed, and a winner announced, the submission by Last Week Tonight was by far better than the video that actually won.
You can watch the Brexit segment below. Last Week Tonight will return next week at 11:00pm on HBO.
[about the NRA] Like PETA but for guns and effective.
The only other things that have dropped 96% in the last two decades are Lycos searches and Tickle-Me-Elmo related stampedes.
The United Kingdom, the birthplace of the Beatles but still very much Earth's Ringo.
Incidentally, an in/out referendum is also what most English people call sex.
Brexit doesn't sound scary, it sounds like a shitty granola bar you'd buy at the airport.
...refers to this weird pillow thing which is supposedly a pump for air mattresses but is clearly a sex doll for platypuses.
Okay, okay. Let's agree. It's official; not everything sounds smarter in a British accent.