John Oliver on Brexit: EU 'Consistently Irritating,' but Britain 'Crazy to Leave'

The votes are in, and according the official tally, the UK has decided to leave the European Union. (I see you, Scotland, and I hope the best for you!) The fallout from the decision has been swift: Prime Minister David Cameron has announced he will step down, the global market is in a frenzy and racists are reveling in their win.  


The Brexit victory—potentially, the end of the European Union—could have disastrous consequences far beyond UK borders, though it may take years to be fully felt. The vote was, by and large, a triumph for xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia; proof that nativism and white supremacy have a vice-like grip on much of our world, one that only gets tighter and more desperate in times of social and economic strife.

For many in America, the implications of this vote are only now beginning to register, mostly because we don’t pay much attention to foreign affairs unless they include the word “terrorism.” But we should be following the events in Europe closely, because they could very well be a grim harbinger of things to come. And yes, Donald Trump and his followers are at least 60 percent of what I mean.

John Oliver—who is very British, as many know—spent some time last week laying out the situation, and it’s worth revisiting his explanation now. Oliver’s edutainment breakdown of why this vote is so troubling plays like a helpful handbook on how a nation can, out of fear and selfishness, shoot itself in the foot. The EU isn’t perfect, but it’s a pretty visionary idea of how the world could work. Oliver acknowledges that while the EU may be annoying in many ways (as nearly everything is), its upsides are important, too.

“Here is how I feel about the EU,” Oliver said. “It’s a complicated, bureaucratic, ambitious, overbearing, inspirational, and consistently irritating institution. And Britain would be absolutely crazy to leave it.”

Comedy is a necessary tonic in the face of social and political upheaval, and Oliver delivers in spades.

Did I mention that the whole segment ends with a cherubic British child singing a song that begins, “Fuck you, European Union”? That’s another reason to watch. 

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