17/02/2016 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Evan Davis.

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European leaders so worn out, they're struggling to find words


Today, the UK is still a member of the European Union,


and I have a feeling that it will not change...


We'll ask if it'll have to be watered down,


Also tonight - we're in the migrant processing camps


Will the rest of Europe allow the migrants through?


People here will confess privately that they are


losing faith that other Europeans will keep their part of this


bargain, and that very soon Greece could find itself cut off


from Schengen, from the rest of Europe,


left to deal with this problem on their own.


All we now need is the money to pay for it.


If you look at the cost of these treatments,


12 weeks of treatment for one person.


That same treatment is being sold in the


How can those who speak for the pharmaceutical industry


Britain's day of destiny is tomorrow - well, tomorrow and Friday.


What we think tonight is that there is still


We expected to have a draft agreement this evening,


We'll digest where we are shortly, but first, our political editor,


David Grossman, reports from Brussels.


From about three o'clock tomorrow afternoon, down that ramp,


will sweep the 28 cars of the heads of government


of the EU, arriving for a crisis summit,


I have been covering these things for about 15 years and I have to say


this one is about as important as they get.


The cars will stop where that one is.


They will maybe even say a few choice words to the reporters


gathered here, as they bound in towards destiny.


As they come through those doors, they will go up


that step over there and pose in front of the flags.


There will be warm handshakes but then the


Of course, there is lots of preparation


already being done in advance by emissaries, the so-called Sherpas


The interesting thing about this summit,


it seems to me, is it has been more intensively prepared than most.


I think by the time David Cameron sent his first public letter


to the president of the European Council at the back end


of last year, he had already done several months of going


round the capitals, and I can't remember a Prime Minister who has


done more than that personal diplomacy.


That meticulous diplomacy has happened for a very simple reason.


For David Cameron, the stakes could not be higher.


What will at this summit, amd the referendum which follows,


David Cameron, I think was shaken by the adverse press reaction


to the deal when it was first put forward by Tusk a couple


His margin for manoeuvre is generally quite small.


On the other hand, of course, the notion that he would come back


and say, I have failed and I have to recommend the British people


that we have to come out of the European Union


He is on a very narrow path that sense.


He could fall off on either side of the cliff edge as it were.


Will the Prime Minister persuade you to back him today?


Then of course David Cameron has his party to deal with.


Boris Johnson, as yet undeclared, was in to discuss the matter


with the Prime Minister in Downing Street today.


As he left, there was no clue as to what had been said.


I have said before, there is no point in saying anything


Of course, it is not just David Cameron who has to walk


Every other EU leader have to juggle domestic opinion


European governments have been really keen to accommodate


British requests, British needs and understands there is an issue


But at the same time, they don't want to create


a precedent which will trigger off a domino effect of other countries


There is this delicate balance that has been sought


over the past few months which is now becoming critical,


and I think today we are seeing that every day a new member state


is raising a few more objections, so much so that we don't actually


know how the meeting tomorrow will go.


And of course, at every EU summit,


there are personal relationships to navigate.


I was at one summit where Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor


almost thumped the Spanish Prime Minister he was so angry with him.


And another summit where Schroeder, the then German Chancellor,


who was a close friend of Tony Blair's told


him to "F off" at one point, simply because he was exhausted.


Once agreement is reached, the champagne corks pop


In a way, sometimes it has to go down to the wire.


You have to look over the cliff edge to see that the alternative


From dawn tomorrow, these desks will start filling up


with journalists from all over the world.


This is big news, of course, not just in Europe.


The big question is, what story will they write?


Well, I don't know how much we read into this fact, but the channels by


which we expected to receive tonight at least some possible tentative


solutions to the problem is that this deal has, we expected to hear


some more details, but those channels have gone quiet. On the


record, we are told that David Cameron and Donald task, the EU


Council president, had a constructive phone call where they


agreed that good progress had been made and good basis for a deal had


been found. In truth, this form of words we have heard in various forms


for months now. Off the record we are hearing a slightly different


picture. More distance between the British position and those of David


Cameron's EU partners on the question of ever-closer union.


Britain still not happy with that form of words that's been agreed so


far in the draft. The safeguard mechanism by which out of work


benefits may be denied EU citizens arriving in Britain, still much work


to be done on that. One senior EU source said tonight that it was


still unclear and unlikely that we would get the precise details of how


that would work by the time Britain votes in a referendum, presuming


that is on the 23rd of June. And the other matter, child benefit. It


wasn't envisage that tomorrow when these EU leaders meet they would be


discussing child benefit. It looks like that's how they're going to be


doing it. One country that has come forward, we already know that many


eastern European countries are unhappy with benefits being denied


their citizens. In Romania, 1 million of their citizens are


working in Spain and Italy, and they are very concerned that a deal done


in Britain is not translated to their citizens in Italy and Spain.


The political danger for Cameron is, yes, it is very likely a deal will


be done. This town wants to move on to talk about the euro and


migration. The danger for Cameron is that the compromise, the


concessions, the fudge, whatever you want to call it, is so impenetrable


to people at home, it looks like to be ordinary voters that he's done


nothing to get what he said he was coming here to get. Thank very much.


Joining me now is the prominent eurosceptic Jacob Rees-Mogg,


and Neil Carmichael, Chair of the pro-remain


Good evening. There does seem to be a sense that it isn't going well


tonight. Jacob Rees-Mogg, is that genuine? It is what you expect


around these negotiations, so they go through the night and then our


hero returns triumphant! We've seen all of this before in European


negotiations. My guess is that most of it is broadly agreed. We haven't


asked for anything except thin gruel. There's no reason for the EU


not to give it to us. That's where we are, it will all work out, and


then we will be supposed to rejoice when the Prime Minister returns.


Neil Carmichael, do you agree? The key point here is that the Prime


Minister is representing Britain's interests. We have to get it across


to the electorate that the best deal is where the UK can stay in the


European Union, but have some meaningful reforms, and be a


catalyst for further reform beyond. Angela Merkel's point, which I was


on your programme earlier, about there needs to be reformed, is


right. One of the issues that does appear to be nitty-gritty, and you


can dismiss this, but there are other countries that have their own


internal political needs. It is this one about child benefit being cut


for a existing migrants whose children are back home. Is that a


significant neat -- thing for them to be arguing about? There's only


34,000 of them claiming signal it sends. It's about whether or not we


have control over our benefits system. We are seeking to get that


control, so a signal to the people at home and also to the European


Union as a whole, is that we want some control, and that's what we're


going to seek. Do you think it is significant? It's trivial. But it is


symbolic of the failures of the EU. Why are we paying benefits for


children who do not live in the United Kingdom? Our benefits is for


people who live in this country, not for people who live abroad. It is


not up to us. If we cannot get this relatively straightforward, minor


thing, it is not a great thing we have asked for and is not the


driving force of immigration. People are not flooding to the United


Kingdom for a few pounds of child benefit. They come here because we


are a more prosperous country. It is on the margins, and it -- if it is


difficult, it shows the failure of the EU more than anything else.


Jacob Rees-Mogg, you think that the Prime Minister couldn't have got


more, and that shows how difficult it is to deal with the EU, or do you


think you should and could have got more? I think he was out negotiated


by Angela Merkel early on. In good faith, he set out what he wanted to


do. He wanted fundamental reform of our relationship with the EU. That


was set out in the Conservative manifesto, and that is what he said


on a number of occasions before the formal negotiations started. He


spoke to the German Chancellor last year and she said she wasn't going


to give these reforms. He went along with that and asked for very little.


If you look at the Sun newspaper, there was a very interesting poll


about Lord Ashcroft about how pop killer the UK is in Europe. -- how


popular. We are the second most popular country after Sweden. They


would have been willing to give us a good deal. Could he have got more if


he had more ambitious goals? I think the big jewel in the crown is making


sure the single market is covering all the areas it should. The


economy, the world of energy and so on, and that's something I think he


can deliver, a really important part of the negotiations. In this


argument, we often go down some sort of small channel, when actually it's


the overall interests of the British economy that will matter. It's all


very well saying, people want to come to prosperous Britain. We are


in the European Union. We are prosperous partly because of that,


and we've got to accept that. To risk that would be extraordinarily


unwise. Let's briefly talk about the effect of this on your party.


Tonight, the most prominent conservative who isn't an MP, Tim


Montgomery, is saying he is leaving the party, I think on the ground


that it isn't quite blue enough, in his view. We heard this a few


minutes before we went on air. Some say he is maybe trying to cajole


Michael Gove and Boris into supporting the outside. Where do you


think he stands? In terms of his position, I think commentators often


find it easier to leave the party they belong to. My father left the


Conservative Party in the early 1960s when he realised he was going


to be more of a journalist than a politician. It is much more easy to


speak out if you are not a member of a party.


Are you expecting Boris and goes to tilt to the outside? We welcome


everyone to our cause, even you and Neil if he sees the light. Do you


think it is plausible that those two very big beasts... First of all, I


want to say I agree with Jacob about Tim. If someone is going down the


journalist route it is probably easier for him not to be part of the


Conservative Party. We do not want to get too obsessed with


personalities. The Prime Minister is leader of the government. He is our


principal negotiator. He is the one, if we decide to end up fighting to


remain in, we will lead that campaign. That is the most important


person out of all of this story. Boris is a great man. I hope he


would join us as well. Thank you both.


Well, Britain may be stealing the European show for a day,


but what they really want to talk about in Brussels is migration.


Greece is centre stage on that - its failure to process migrants


and refugees properly, causing anger among the other states.


Mark Urban has gone to see if the situation is improving.


Mark, we were talking about Brexit and those negotiations, you are


talking about migrants, there are links between those issues?


Absolutely. It was reverberating in my head about all the linkages.


Chancellor Merkel is crucial in both these matters. She made this deal


with David Cameron to go with if you like the lesser package of reforms,


in turn she would give her wholehearted backing to Britain's


case. What has happened instead is she has had to expend a lot of time


and political capital and run down the favour bank on the migration


issue instead, because the German people care so much about it. That


has had all sorts of consequences that read across, but in particular,


in relation to a group of nations, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic


and Slovakia. They have been the most energetic in attacking her on


migration, but they are the ones now leading the resistance on the child


benefit issue you were talking about earlier, on the Brexit agenda so


they read across both stories. In relation to migration they have been


asking for very tough action. Pressure in Macedonia, which is the


country to the north of here, to close its borders altogether,


pressuring the EU, to completely seal off Greece from the Schengen


area, if changes are not made in the next three months.


Evenings are the time for protest in Diavata,


a hard done by neighbourhood on the outskirts


Diavata has been chosen as one of half a dozen points


for the screening and onward dispatch of refugees.


There's a camp being built, and people don't like it,


and with rumours of borders further north closing,


Apostoll Giapoutsis, one of the protest leaders,


says the numbers here could soon swell.


These people are not going to be able to escape.


So I think the big issue is how many Syrians we will actually be able


The police were there in strength to block them,


and there's little more people can do than sing and voice their anger


The Army has been deployed for the first time since the refugee


crisis got piled onto Greece's other woes.


Because Europe is now threatening to freeze Greece out


unless it makes a better job of screening refugees.


We understand very well that there is a delay


in the development of European policy about this problem -


the problem of the war in Syria, and of course the problem


So we have to work with Europe, we have to work together with other


countries, to solve this problem that is a common problem.


Greece now is the brother of the whole Europe.


That means we are waiting and we are hosting the refugees


So there is an obligation for Europe also to help Greece for all this


This place is intended to shelter 1,500 refugees normally,


But for it to work as simply a waypoint on their journey north,


everyone in the EU has to cooperate, and the last few months hardly give


All of this work here is part of an EU plan to receive refugees,


process them, and then pass them on to other European countries.


But what people here will confess privately is that they are losing


faith that other Europeans will keep their part of this


bargain, and that very soon, Greece could find itself being cut


off from Schengen, from the rest of Europe, left to deal with this


An hour to the north of Thessaloniki is the Macedonian border.


And it's here that you can see an alternative future taking shape.


Egged on by Hungary and the rest of the states of the Visegrad Four,


the so-called double fence is being put in place,


As police from the Czech Republic and Slovakia -


also Visegrad countries - look on, people are checked for false papers.


For those watching waiting to be checked, it's one more stage


This man has already spent $1,500 travelling this far


If the Turkish catch us, I don't try it again.


This woman, too, was turned back, and quickly became distraught.


This is the human reality of tightened controls on those


who come through Greece with fake papers or as economic migrants.


There are other problems on this border too.


Those stemming from Greece's long struggle with EU-mandated austerity.


Farmers have taken to blocking the highway to Macedonia.


lumping us in with what they see as a hostile northern Europe.


Their organiser even stopped one farmer explaining their protest.


It's Greece's current crisis, and its poverty, that lead many


other EU countries to suppose that it cannot exercise proper


Macedonia, meanwhile, is coming under pressure


There's been so much protest here that


Between 10.00 and 12.00, the Macedonian taxi drivers,


who are upset that they are being cut out of the refugee-shifting


business do their thing, and from 2.00 until 4.00,


the Greek farmers blockade the other side.


They've got their own economic grievances with their government.


And it is upon these two governments, Greece and Macedonia,


that the EU rests its hopes for solving the migrant crisis.


Caught for years in the vice of economic crisis, Greeks now find


themselves under threat of being frozen out of Schengen.


Little wonder that people here don't know what else can be thrown at them


unless something happens to reduce the numbers using this country


Mark, briefly tell us if there is anything that can prove Greece some


hope that it will not be booted out from the Schengen zone? It is


fascinating. We noticed very few refugees in the transit facilities


near the border the other day. Yesterday, the police minister said


only 200 had come across from Turkey to the island. Today, some people


have said none at all. Potentially, this is very significant. The aid


organisations say, be careful, there have been dips before and the


numbers have picked up again. But some people are speculating it is to


do with the change of policy by Turkey, the possibility of Nato, the


certainty that Nato will soon come in, but the possibility that that


could have a dramatic affect on the smugglers. All of this will be


deeply significant not just for Greece, but for Chancellor Merkel's


political position back home. Some say it could cost her her job if


this carries on. Potentially, this could get very interesting in the


next few days, if we see if this pattern is something which signals a


new phase. Thank you. It is perhaps an under-reported


breakthrough that new drugs are now available to cure hepatitis C


in the vast majority of patients. Now you might say, "Three cheers


for the pharmaceutical industry!" It's cracked the problem


of a chronic viral condition that affects 200 million people


around the world. But you might alternatively think,


this just proves the evil of big pharma, because the new drugs


are priced very high. Hepatitis C raises the thorny


question as to what the rewards for drug companies'


innovation should be. In this country, the National


Institute for Health and Care Excellence for England


and Wales has given a green light to the expensive treatments


for many patients. That guidance should


take effect any day now, but some categories of patient,


still have to wait. The filmmaker Kate Brown had the HPC


virus, but has been cured of it, and looked at the challenge


for patients of getting the drugs. I'm waiting for the results,


for my end of treatment results. So she's going to fax them


straight through to him and hopefully he will


get back to me. Sean Reddin, desperate and unable


to get hepatitis C treatment within the health system has taken


matters into his own hands. Millions worldwide


face this dilemma. I have been making a film


about access to treatment for the hepatitis C


epidemic for over a year. It is highly contagious


and can cause cirrhosis Previously, treatment


was very toxic. Now there are new drugs which cure,


with virtually no side effects. I live in Germany, where


I was prescribed treatment I have come back to the UK to find


out why people here are not I'm starting with Dr Andrew Hill,


an expert in drug pricing. If you look at the cost


of these treatments, They cost ?100 per course


to make, 12 weeks of treatment That same treatment is being sold


in the United Kingdom for ?35,000. It is such a huge that


the National Health Service and NICE have been hesitating


to decide Dr Hill told me


about the US Senate's investigation into pricing,


which has focused on one particular Using Gilead's own documents,


the evidence shows that the company pursued a calculated


scheme for pricing and marketing its hepatitis C drug,


based on one goal, maximising revenue regardless


of the human consequences. How many billions do


they need to make before These drugs are fundamentally cheap


but they are not being accessed by most people because


the prices are so high. One of the reasons why there's


so little protest about the high price of hepatitis C treatment


is that patients I went back to see my old doctor


to ask him about this stigma. Being silent about hepatitis C


is doing no one any favours. I think there is


incredible amount of stigma and I think that stigma


probably comes from the days of hepatitis C being labelled


as a disease of intravenous drug use, and of intravenous


drug users, not being I went to see Dr Magdalena Harris,


who is researching the experiences For them, a trip to the dentist is


always complicated. The issue of the last appointment,


I have been hearing it for the last ten years and conducting research


into people who have hepatitis C. I am given the last appointment


of the day by my dentist We need to de-stigmatise this


and say this is an infection, it is no different from


any other infection. It is an infection that people catch


and needs to be treated. One person who has not


been able to access NHS treatment Recently diagnosed, her appointments


keep getting postponed. She isn't sure how she was infected


with hepatitis C. What is she planning


to do about treatment? I don't know what I


should do, really. I suppose, I mean, I have been


trying to sign up with trials, I know you can also get


drugs from India cheaper. Zsuzsanna's life and health


is being badly infected because she is not


getting treatment. Ten years ago when I had breast


cancer and stopped HRT, During the last ten years, I have


gradually got worse. My mobility has been


drastically reduced. Whereas before I could walk


for hours, without getting tired, now I don't, I am not


able to walk at all. Some people are taking treatment


into their own hands, Buying drugs off the


internet is a new thing. It is an emerging way


of being treated. One issue is, do you know


that the medicine you are Sean Reddin could not get


treatment in Ireland. The Irish health service,


like the NHS, Online, he found the


Australian-based Through them, he bought clinically


tested generic drugs. I became a member


of the Buyers' Club. I had my appointment


via Skype with Dr Freeman. I sent him all my documentation


from my blood test results from Ireland, and he said,


yes, it is possible, if I come over to Australia,


he could give them to me. Sean paid about ?750


for treatment that will cost And have now completed 12 weeks


of treatment last Monday. I am now waiting for my end


of treatment results as we speak. My GP Dr Johnny Fleetwood


of Dublin is on the phone. He has the result of my end


of treatment tests and so, A little bit apprehensive and


nervous but excited Excellent, Johnny,


that is brilliant news! I have lived with


hepatitis since 1980. In the UK, it is legal to get


three months' treatment delivered to your door,


so for those patients who can pay for it, the online buyers'


club may be an option, but most will have to wait and see


if the NHS can afford to treat them. This is billions of pounds


of funding at a time when the NHS is in a very difficult


financial situation. So it just does not


seem feasible that we will be able to eliminate hepatitis


C within the next 15 or 20 years, with prices this high, but we could,


we definitely could if we could get We asked to speak to Gilead


about the cost of their drugs but instead they sent us


a statement: While we appreciate Senator Wyden's


attention to this issue, we respectfully disagree with his


conclusions. With me now is Dr Virginia Acha,


Executive Director of the Association of the British


Pharmaceutical Industry. Good evening. We know that the drug


companies have to be recommended for the billions they spend on research.


Is there any limit to the price they should be allowed to charge? We are


focusing a lot on price. In that video I didn't hear anything about


the value we are getting from the way these medicines are being


introduced into health care. When NICE gives approval, it's not just


because we think the treatment is great. It's because they have


decided that it makes sense to give the British public this medication.


No one will dispute that these are great drugs. Let's suppose it has


?100,000 benefit. Is it reasonable for the drug company to charge


?99,000? That is the benefit of the system we have in the UK. Let's be


honest, the list price we have been hearing about isn't necessarily what


the health care services will pay. There's some very effective and


competitive discounts going on. Might we be paying less than the


?35,000? I would almost guarantee that within the process that we


access medication, the government does a very good job of making sure


it is being a careful buyer when they are investing in new medicines.


It's not just a case of one medicine. We have at least three


hepatitis C products all competing for that very treatment area.


Competition will be driving value, no doubt. We give Gilead monopoly on


the one they've got, which is the one that has the best genotype use.


We give them the monopoly through patents, which allows them to charge


the high price. Would it be reasonable for society to say, if


you are going to abuse it, we will shorten the patents? Patents are


very important to protect investment in our NDA. A patents and allows you


to disclose and protect your investment. Pricing should be a


separate conversation. When we look at the value of any drug, and I


wouldn't compare between the different hepatitis C products


necessarily, but when you look at how they are going to negotiate


their value, they will look not just at what it costs to bring them to


market, but what it means for patients. It is sad that patients


are having to work so hard to get a medication that is approved by NICE.


If you had hepatitis C and the health care system said they would


not buy you the drugs, would you go to a buyers' club? With my


background, I used to work a lot in regular systems. I would be


concerned working on a system that didn't go through the normal


channels. Come on. You would take it, wouldn't you? I can see the ways


that we can abuse people's trust on the Internet, so I would like to


keep people in the safe, sound system of the NHS. Thank you.


Atheism is not as modern a creed as you might think.


A new book called Battling The Gods looks at disbelief in God


in the ancient world and finds it is not the case


That's perhaps contrary to the view that atheism is a feature


The author is Tim Whitmarsh, Professor of Greek Culture


and a Fellow of St John's College, University of Cambridge.


Good evening. You are talking about the Romans and the Greeks, and


atheism there. How did we miss the fact that there were a lot of


disbelievers at the time? I'm not the first person to have noticed


that there were disbelievers in antiquity. The book pulls together


all of this material. Part of the reason why people have not


historically focused on this thing is because we see the Greeks and


Romans as pre-Christian, and define them as the antithesis of


Christianity. The Greeks and the Romans had to be about outward


ritual acts and so forth, and a lot of it was. But they did have this


issue of belief in the gods. Essentially, at the time, they


didn't know that the Earth revolved around the sun. They didn't know a


lot. What were the grounds of people being atheistic? You can see why


gods and their moods would have been explanations for quite a lot of


things. It's very interesting. That argument that says there was a time


when people were naive and silly and believed that the heavenly bodies


were gods and so forth was in the past, and we moved beyond that, but


the Greeks themselves did beyond that, on occasion. The idea that


their original people lived in squalid disorder and so forth, and


they miss perceived the patterns of the celestial bodies, and nowadays


we don't believe that any more. It is exactly the same trait. You talk


about those periods. But religion becomes more dogmatic and


monotheistic. Atheism is perhaps a little harder in the monotheistic


era. Yes. When Christianity comes in, you get a lot of legislation


about the nature of belief. Christianity isn't hardest on


atheists. It is hardest on Christians who don't believe in the


correct way. A code drawn up in late Antiquity to try and dictate the


kind of beliefs that were prof, it is the Christian heretics forget it


worse. Your basic purpose is to say that your basic beings are


instinctively religious until science comes along and says, hey


guys, the earth goes around the sun and it isn't the gods, is wrong,


basically. I think it... It is a hunch, I cannot prove it, but it is


a hunch that in all cultures at all times, there were people who


disbelieved in the gods. You do not need a science and secularism to


understand it. The other thing is that the new atheists - there is


something in the book to annoy everyone - the new atheists didn't


believe either. Richard Hawkins and that lot, the new atheists, ten to


talk about the invention of atheism as though it were solely a product


of science. But in the past, a lot of people became atheists, in the


18th-century, for example, by reading the classics. Good luck with


the book. Thank you very much. Just time to congratulate our very


own Chris Cook, who tonight shared the RTS scoop of the year award


with Buzzfeed


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