Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 4, Episode 15 - Brexit II - full transcript

In the wake of a divisive election, the UK will begin the process of leaving the European Union. John Oliver and an intergalactic space lord propose a plan.

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Season IV
Episode 15

Welcome to Last Week Tonight.

I'm John Oliver. Thank you
for joining us, let's dive straight in

with the latest installment in what
we're calling "Stupid Watergate".

Something with all the potential
national shame of Watergate,

brought to you by people too stupid
to grasp the concept of shame.

Former FBI director and worst person
to sit behind in a movie theater,

James Comey,
got everybody's attention.

Striking revelations and allegations
from James Comey.

Under oath, telling Congress
he has no doubt

he was fired because of
the Russia investigation.

Dramatic, but the notion that Comey
was fired because of the investigation

isn't actually new or controversial.

It is easy to forget,
but Trump suggested as much

in an interview just a month ago.

It's more a known fact that many
choose to ignore,

like "a pet snake
is a character flaw"

or "DJs aren't doing
anything up there."

Comey, the result of a mall security
guard's drunken hookup with an oak,

did testify before the Senate
Intelligence Committee,

and he had forcefully addressed
Trump's initial excuse for firing him.

Saying that the organization
was in disarray, poorly led,

the work force had lost
confidence in its leader.

Those were lies, plain and simple.

Hold on.
Let's be honest here.

Donald Trump's lies are never
plain and simple.

Each one is like an
everlasting gobstopper.

You'll never make it through
every layer, it's produced

by a lunatic
who shouldn't be in charge.

Willy, oompah loompahs
shit in the chocolate river

and you'll leave your estate to the
only child you didn't nearly murder.

You have no business
running a factory.

That was one of many times Comey
questioned president's credibility.

Listen to the reason Comey gave

for taking detailed notes
on his meetings with Trump.

I was concerned he might lie
about the nature of our meeting

and so I thought to document.

He's describing his meeting
with the president

like a person who thought
he was about to be murdered.

All of a sudden we were alone,
so I texted my location to a friend

and tried to get some of his DNA
under my fingernails !

It is a good thing that Comey,
a disgruntled giraffe,

who was somehow cursed by
a warlock to head the FBI,

did take notes, because some of his
encounters with the president

got pretty weird.

Like the infamous dinner where
Trump asked for his loyalty.

How unusual is it to have
a dinner with the president ?

Did that strike you as odd ?

Yeah. I assumed
there would be others,

that he couldn't be
having dinner with me alone.

He was tricked into a one-on-one
dinner with Donald Trump,

which is not the first time
that has happened.

Comey is lucky that Trump didn't try
the hole in a bucket of popcorn trick.

Let's all admit: it is better to have
a dinner alone with Trump

than have Jared Kushner there too,
just staring at you silently

with his creepy, dead eyes.

Is that you, Jared ?

I thought you were a painting of an
orphan from the Great Depression.

The most tantalizing moments
may turn out to be the things

Comey didn't, or wasn't able
to say, like in this exchange.

Do you believe Donald Trump
colluded with Russia ?

That's a question I don't think
I should answer in an open setting.

Yeah, I can't answer
that question here.

I have been screaming the word 'yes'
in this paper bag the last four weeks,

which I can submit as evidence
to the committee if required.

I will need to be
provided with a new scream bag.

Comey declining to answer doesn't
mean there's anything there,

he could just be operating
out of an abundance of caution.

There was a moment
he seemed to hint at something new.

It came when discussing the FBI's
lack of surprise at Jeff Sessions

recusing himself
from the Russia investigation.

Our judgment was that he was close
to and inevitably going to

recuse himself
for a variety of reasons.

We also were aware of facts
that would make his engagement

in a Russia-related
investigation problematic.

That sounds like a big deal.

If someone asks you if you've ever
had sex with a turtle, and you say:

"there are facts about that I can't
discuss in an open setting",

the answer is "yes"

a message board for finding freshly
hatched turtles to have sex with.

Comey's testimony appears
damaging for the White House.

Even Fox News was struggling
to spin any positives.

Politically, it was very damaging
to the president.

I am concerned
after hearing Jim Comey today.

It was far stronger, more credible
and more damning than the statement

we got from Comey yesterday.

This sort of brings home the question
of the president's credibility,

which is always a big loss.

That is not good.
Although at this point,

saying something "damaged
Trump's credibility" is like saying

"that graffiti is a real eyesore
on that pile of dead pigeons."

As for the president himself,
he was silent the day of the hearing,

but sent a tweet the next
morning that began:

"despite many false statements and
lies, total and complete vindication."

Think about what he's saying.
Trump is claiming he's been vindicated

by testimony
he's claiming is false.

At this point, he's become
a walking logical paradox.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised
if he just starts tweeting:

"I traveled back in time
and killed myself. Very unfair !"

And in a press conference,
Trump reiterated his claim

that Comey had lied, which
prompted an obvious question.

Would you speak under oath
to give your version ?

100 percent.

So if Robert Mueller
wanted to speak...

I would tell him exactly
what I just told you, Jim.

Holy shit. Trump just
volunteered to testify under oath,

putting himself in a situation where
it's his word against Comey's.

For all the pushback Republican
senators gave Comey,

they never once questioned
his honesty and his integrity

or challenged his characterization
of Trump as a liar.

Why did Trump seem to expose
himself like that ? I don't know.

I cannot explain. Jane Goodall
could not explain his behavior.

She could watch Trump for a decade
and eventually conclude:

I think it's a cocktail of insecurity,
horniness, and malice,

but which is in control
of which is beyond me.

I miss the integrity and emotional
intelligence of the apes.

But perhaps the most infuriating
response came from Paul Ryan,

who proves that you can live a
normal, healthy life without a spine.

Ryan's explanation was pathetic.

The president's new at this.
He's new to government

and so he probably wasn't steeped
in the long-running protocols

that establish the relationships
between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses.

There are so many problems
with what he just said,

but there are undeniably times when
the excuse "he's new to this" is fair.

If you work at a daycare
and on your first day

you mix up the three Olivias,
no big deal, you're new here.

But if on your first day,
you set up a baby fight club ?

That is not okay, and you should've
known that before you started.

A president attempting
to shut down an investigation

into a subordinate is pretty
firmly the latter option here.

You want their supervisors
to look into that,

even if the first rule of baby fight
club is that you cannot talk about that

in an open setting.

And now this.

There is no group
of people more easily amazed

than the audience
of "America's Got Talent".

Moving on. Our main story tonight
concerns the United Kingdom.

The country that's been saying
"yas, queen" for centuries.

We've been
saying it for centuries.

Yas, queen.

The UK held a national election. There
wasn't due to be one for three years,

but Prime Minister Theresa May
called it early.

It's called a snap election, she
did it to consolidate her power.

It didn't quite work out
that way.

A disaster for
the UK prime minister tonight.

Theresa May's Conservatives
suffering a stunning setback.

Her goal of securing a stronger hand
for Brexit negotiations backfired.

The snap general election
ended with a hung parliament.

Yes, this was a clusterfuck or
a crumpetfuck of epic proportions.

Theresa May, to stay in power,
she's attempting to cut a deal

with DUP, an anti-gay, anti-abortion
party in Northern Ireland,

which has opened her up
to even more criticism.

There are rumors of a leadership
challenge from within her party,

by Boris Johnson, a grown man
who looks like a 7-year old

who's spun in circles for two minutes
and is about to throw up.

While Theresa May did win re-election
in her own constituency,

even that came
with some humiliation.

British politics has a proud tradition
of having all candidates

standing together on the stage
when results are announced,

even joke candidates.

On election night, as her party
was dealt a massive blow,

the prime minister, here, had to stand
onstage alongside Elmo,

who got 3 votes,

as well as Howling Laud Hope of
the Monster Raving Looney Party,

who got 119 votes.

And, if you've noticed this guy,
wait till you hear his name.

Lord Buckethead... 249.

You can roll your eyes
all you like, Theresa.

Your evening found a way
to get a lot worse.

Lord Buckethead is this guy,
an "intergalactic space lord"

who ran on a platform of,
among other things,

"the abolition of the lords,
brackets, except me",

and "stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia.
Start buying lasers from Buckethead."

He did this while looking like Darth
Vader fucked an Amazon Echo.

What I'm saying is, British politics,
when done well, can be very fun.

So how did Theresa May suffer
such a setback in an election that

she was predicted
to win in a landslide ?

She ran a campaign
full of mistakes, flip-flops

and uninspiring
moments like this.

What's the naughtiest thing
you ever did ?

Goodness me.
I suppose the...

I'm not quite sure.

When me and my friends used
to run through the fields of wheat,

the farmers
weren't too pleased.

The naughtiest thing you've ever
done is run through a wheat field ?

I cannot imagine a scenario
when that is ever naughty

unless you're doing it while high
on PCP and fucking a cantaloupe.

One of the beneficiaries
of the election was May's opponent,

Jeremy Corbyn.

He and Britain's Labour Party
outperformed expectations,

despite taking some rough
treatment from the British tabloids.

An impressive
performance for Corbyn,

undercut by one awkward moment
with a fellow party leader.

Mr. Corbyn was beaming as he arrived
at his own count in Islington,

though his high-five with Thornberry
went a touch too far perhaps.

That's not ideal.
A celebratory moment,

followed by history's most catastrophic
rounding of second base.

I do not agree with Theresa May
on the vast majority of issues.

The tone of some of the coverage
surrounding her setback

was more than a little sexist.

The face of Theresa May,
the look of a woman defeated,

heavily made up
as if she'd been in tears earlier.

Her voice cracking at times.

I can recognize the look
of a woman defeated.

It's the one my female colleagues give
me any time I tell them to smile more.

Back to you in the studio, Angela.

That's the exact expression
I'm referring to.

Cheer up, old girl,
you look absolutely miserable !

The whole point of May
calling this election early

was to strengthen her hand
going into Brexit negotiations.

And though it has done
the exact opposite of that,

let's take a look at what those
talks are going to involve.

Talks are set to begin
a week from tomorrow

and they need to be completed
by March of 2019,

which is not a lot of time
to do something important

and incredibly complicated.

Britain wants out of the EU.

But we've been in for more
than forty years,

with our systems becoming
more tangled up with each other.

We only have two years to
hammer out a divorce deal.

It's true, this is going to be
a messy, complicated divorce.

Try and think of it this way:

imagine if Florida wanted
to secede from the union.

Nice, right ?

Think about everything
that that would entail:

Florida has a border with Alabama
and Georgia that would need patrolling.

Florida goods going over that
border, like oranges or meth,

would likely be subject to tariffs.

You'd need to decide whether Floridians
would be welcome in the U.S.

or Americans
welcome in Florida.

That's before you get into the question
of who'd take custody of Hulk Hogan ?

Florida and the U.S. splitting up would
be an immensely complicated process.

It's a great idea, and we should
do it, but it wouldn't be easy.

Brexit is going to be more difficult
and more expensive, too.

A so-called divorce bill
needs to be negotiated,

where the UK settles financial
commitments that they made,

and some estimates put that
as high as 100 billion euros.

And that's just the beginning.
Broadly speaking,

the question is whether the UK
will have a hard or a soft Brexit.

That is a concept that British
TV has attempted to explain,

sometimes in the most
ludicrous fashion.

The options range from a harder
Brexit to a softer Brexit.

What better way to judge peoples'
political taste than through cheese ?

Hard... or soft ?

What ?

What better way to judge people's
political taste than through cheese ?

Off the top of my head:
literally all other ways.

Even Buzzfeed would find

"tell us what cheese you like and we'll
tell you what Brexit you want"

to be too stupid
for one of their quizzes.

And they've run the actual quizzes:
"should you stick this up your butt ?"

And "which Olsen twin are you ?"

We addressed last week,
there is only one Olsen twin.

It's a gigantic conspiracy.
You're being lied to.

I just don't know why yet.
But anyway, put that aside,

that report
had useful information in it,

if you can ignore the fact it is
pointlessly written on cheese.

A harder Brexit would see
the UK leave the single market.

UK would then trade
with the EU under WTO rules.

We'd have more of a say over borders
so we could control immigration.

A softer Brexit would see the UK
remain part of the single market.

There'd be continued
free access for EU nationals.

But Britain's exports wouldn't be
subject to border checks.

That's a pretty decent explainer.
Although I really must insist,

that cheese
is distractingly weird.

The only time cheese should be
used as a framing device

is if you are a mouse couple
posing for wedding photos.

And even then,
it's a little Pinteresty.

It's never a bad idea to
ask yourself:

if you somehow
couldn't Instagram your wedding,

would you still be
getting married ?

Within that hard-soft framework
are decisions that will affect lives.

Take immigration. There are currently
3 million EU citizens living in the UK

and 1.2 million British citizens
living in Europe.

All wouldn't mind knowing
where they'll be allowed to live

and what their rights might be,
in two years' time.

The issue of Northern Ireland,
which is part of the UK

and will therefore Brexit.

But, the Republic of Ireland
is part of the EU.

Any effort to start policing the border
between them will be difficult,

there is a long, painful history
of tensions on the subject.

The idea of border checkpoints
splitting communities again

could quickly become a nightmare.

This is a huge, delicate problem,
which one news report illustrated

in the most
whimsical way possible.

Pip the dog goes on a brief excursion
to the Republic of Ireland.

And returns to the United Kingdom
just as easily.

This dog had no license
to cross the border

so he'll have to go to jail,
he's an illegal immigrant.

Yes, that is an objectively silly way
to illustrate an important issue.

I'm not sure there is a better
metaphor for the British Empire than

a jolly chap named Pip shows
fuck-all respect for a border.

This bit of land here is mine.
And this one too.

And this part is
very fun to play around in.

We haven't even got to the most
difficult issue, trade.

Pulling out of the EU's single market
without striking a favorable trade deal

could expose UK
products to high tariffs.

That is worrisome for farmers,

since around two-thirds of the UK's
agricultural exports go to the EU.

Not to mention, the significant EU farm
subsidies that would be lost.

No wonder
the farmers are concerned.

Andrew Baugh's family
have farmed here since 1947.

If we leave without a trade deal,
he'll be badly hit.

We'd have a job to export
things because of the tariffs,

particularly with something
like these sheep,

a third of all lambs
need to be exported.

The whole food industry,
I believe, is at risk.

We're gonna have a rub now.
That's what we do in life.

Could they have cut out before
the pig started grinding on that post ?

Yes, but they didn't
because they knew:

that twerking pig may be the perfect
embodiment of the Brexit situation.

It's in motion already,
we're all powerless to stop it

and it is impossible
to look away.

As for how the British economy will
fare outside of EU trade agreements,

that is also unclear.

Some argue that things could work out
great and that no matter what,

British products are so desirable,
they will find eager customers.

And maybe that's true !
Maybe pork pies, Marmite, mushy peas

and undiagnosed clinical depression
will all take the planet by storm.

That is technically possible. But there
is a massive amount of work to do.

UK will need to decide which EU laws
it'll choose to keep,

from workers' rights to
environmental protection.

It'll also likely need to set up
its own regulatory agencies.

And it may also need
to negotiate new treaties

to replace the 759 EU-brokered
deals that it will be excluded from,

governing everything
from wine to nuclear power

to the 1981 bilateral agreement
with Iceland

concerning the trade of sheep meat
and goat meat.

Any single part of Brexit
is a mountainous task

and that is before you get
to the tiny little bit

that you haven't even
thought might be a problem.

250 000 dogs and cats go across
the British channel every year.

Trying to work out
how the pet passports work,

that would take
months of negotiation.

He's right, they've even have to work
out the issue of pet passports.

While they are a genuine
logistical concern,

pet passports sound like they
belong to real asshole cats and dogs.

Technically I'm a Persian,

but I consider myself more
a citizen of the world.

Fuck you, Muffin. You still use
your mouth to clean your butt.

You're not better than me !

The Brexit deal with the EU needs
to be finalized within just two years.

If you think: what if they
don't get it done ?

This happens.

If there's no deal, that leaves
only one option: the cliff edge.

The cliff edge describes the reality
of one day being in the EU,

with everything that that means,
and the next day being out of it.

There is one instance in which
the stock footage

of an old-timey car flying off
a cliff is appropriate for news,

and you've just witnessed it.

Because if there is no deal,
everything from tariffs to immigration

would default
to the harshest possible scenario,

which could destabilize
the entire country.

In theory, they could get
an extension on the negotiation.

That would require all 27 EU
members to approve it.

I would not rely on that happening.

EU has a vested interest in making
this negotiation difficult,

because however much they
may value the UK as a partner,

they need to dissuade any other
countries from pulling out.

EU is taking a firm line.
After the Brexit vote, Boris Johnson,

a man with the face of
a Roald Dahl character

and the uncomfortable racism
of a Roald Dahl,

claimed that our policy is having
our cake and eating it.

Watch EU President Donald Tusk
dismantle that idea.

To all who believe in it,
I propose a simple experiment.

Buy a cake, eat it, and see
if it is still there on the plate.

There will be no cakes
on the table. For anyone.

There will be only
salt and vinegar.

Nothing but salt and vinegar.
That is some tough talk.

Someone should tell him that British
people love salt and vinegar.

Look at all of our variations
on salt and vinegar crisps.

Threatening the British by saying
there will be only salt and vinegar

is like threatening the French:
there will only be wine and baguettes

or threatening the Swiss: there
will only be chocolate and Nazi gold.

Those are their two favorite things !
They like those, equally.

UK faces a daunting task. The pound
has suffered since the Brexit vote

and Theresa May seems to have
weakened her position,

making it harder for her
to enact her plan.

It wasn't clear what that plan was
in the first place.

While she seems to favor
a hard Brexit,

she could be maddeningly
evasive when asked for specifics.

People talk about the sort of Brexit
that there is going to be,

actually, we want a red,
white, and blue Brexit.

That is the right Brexit
for the UK.

But what does that mean ?
You're heading into a negotiation

that will set the course
for Britain for generations

and you're naming colors
on the fucking flag.

Forget running through fields of wheat,
that may be the most ridiculous thing.

I apologize to that guy
from before.

I said there was literally no worse way
to discuss this than with cheese,

but I was not counting on Thatcher
in the Rye here

answering a policy question
with a fucking color scheme.

Her vagueness
did not go unnoticed.

In fact, it is not a great sign
that the single most honest statement

from any candidate in this election
regarding the difficulty of the task

came from a man with
a two-foot bucket on his head.

Your prime minister, your MP,
Theresa May,

called this election about Brexit.

Have we heard from her what
she plans to do about Brexit ?

No ! This is mad.

On Thursday you are going to be faced
with Prime Minister May

or Prime Minister Corbyn against
27 prime ministers from the EU.

It will be a shit-show.

You know what ?

I never thought I'd say this, but that
intergalactic space lord has a point.

The UK is set to walk in a negotiation
with no real leverage,

no significant political mandate
and no coherent plan.

I don't really have a solution.
But I have a proposal for Theresa May.

'Cause at this point, you have
basically fucked everything up.

Your only real chance here
is to utilize the element of surprise.

So how about instead
of sending a career negotiator,

why not send someone that there is
no way they would expect ?

I'm talking about someone bold,
unafraid to call it how it is.

Someone with a firm,
leather-clad grasp of the issues.

Someone with a bucket list
of demands,

and an honest,
slightly muffled voice ?

I'm talking about the intergalactic
space lord himself.

Here is the question: is he willing
to do it ? Well, yes, he is.

And the reason I know that,
is we found him, contacted him

and actually flew him here
to New York this morning.

Could we have just made a similar
costume and put an intern in it ?

Yes, shit, we could have done
that. That's a good point.

But we didn't.
And the fact that we didn't

is why I am now able to
present to you here tonight,

your new Brexit negotiator,
Lord Buckethead.

That's right:
on your knees, earthlings.

Theresa May, if you are still prime
minister by the time this show airs,

I implore you:
send the dark lord to Brussels !

Is it an absurd idea ? Yes.
But it would not even be close

to the stupidest
thing that you have ever done !

Thank you for watching,
we'll see you next week, good night !