13/10/2016 Newsnight


13/10/2016

Covering the story of the Syrian refugee accused of sexual assault in Newcastle, the prospect of a new referendum for Scotland, the Marmite economy, and Margaret Atwood.


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They escaped Syria's civil war only to find themselves centre

:00:00.:00:07.

Three refugees are accused of sexual assault in Newcastle.

:00:08.:00:24.

They say false claims were the product of

:00:25.:00:26.

Newsnight has followed the family of one of those accused over

:00:27.:00:31.

We were with them as the verdict came through.

:00:32.:00:39.

Did you ever think, this is worse than what we left behind?

:00:40.:00:51.

They're using the result as a cover for a hard Brexit for which they

:00:52.:00:56.

But which they intend to impose regardless.

:00:57.:01:00.

Sturgeon pulls no punches as she tells the Prime Minister

:01:01.:01:03.

to listen to her on Brexit or face the consequences of a second

:01:04.:01:06.

We'll hear live from former Scottish Europe Minister and leader

:01:07.:01:13.

of the SNP's In campaign, Humza Yousaf.

:01:14.:01:19.

Mortify my flesh that I may be multiplied.

:01:20.:01:25.

The Handmaid's Tale is only one of the politically inspired novels

:01:26.:01:28.

that today won Margaret Atwood the 2016 Pinter Prize.

:01:29.:01:30.

She tells me why her dystopic novel of female enslavement feels even

:01:31.:01:33.

Unfortunately, at the time I wrote it, there were people

:01:34.:01:38.

who were saying this could never happen in America.

:01:39.:01:40.

I don't think people are saying that much any more.

:01:41.:01:59.

What should rich countries like ours be doing to help

:02:00.:02:03.

the millions of people trying to escape Syria's

:02:04.:02:05.

It's a question that has paralysed Europe for much

:02:06.:02:08.

After argument and agonising, Britain agreed to take 20,000

:02:09.:02:12.

A tiny number compared to the million offered

:02:13.:02:15.

But when one of the first to arrive in Britain was charged with sexually

:02:16.:02:23.

assaulting a schoolgirl earlier this year, some feared even this

:02:24.:02:25.

modest influx could create dangerous tensions.

:02:26.:02:30.

Newsnight has been following the family at the heart of this

:02:31.:02:32.

Today 18-year-old Omar Badreddin and two other Syrian refugees

:02:33.:02:38.

were cleared of sexually assaulting a schoolgirl in a park in Newcastle.

:02:39.:02:41.

Katie Razzall and producer Maria Polachowska chart one family's

:02:42.:02:43.

journey from a war-ravaged Syrian town to the steps

:02:44.:02:45.

The film contains some disturbing images.

:02:46.:03:06.

Relief for a family that has suffered so much. For the past three

:03:07.:03:15.

weeks, Omar Badreddin has been on trial at Newcastle Crown Court,

:03:16.:03:17.

charged with sexual assault. Today he was found not guilty.

:03:18.:03:28.

The Badreddins came from Syria, looking for respite after years of

:03:29.:03:37.

war. But this family quickly found that in taking up the offer of

:03:38.:03:43.

century, they had replaced a war zone with a different kind of hell.

:03:44.:03:47.

Did you ever think this was worse than what you had left behind?

:03:48.:04:20.

Newsnight has been filming this family for 11 months. What began as

:04:21.:04:27.

a story of escape from war became a window on the isolation of beginning

:04:28.:04:33.

a new life. In a country where not everybody wants you, where a sexual

:04:34.:04:38.

assault charge provokes a far right demonstration. Faced off by

:04:39.:04:49.

antiracism campaigners. A 14-year-old girl had accused Omar

:04:50.:04:54.

Badreddin along with two other Syrians of working together to grope

:04:55.:05:00.

and kiss her behind a pavilion in this local park. Her friends said

:05:01.:05:05.

they had done the same to her. The jury unanimously found all the man

:05:06.:05:07.

not guilty. At a time when we are navigating how

:05:08.:05:19.

to help people in desperate need, plenty are suspicious of newcomers,

:05:20.:05:22.

with their different customs and traditions. And that, believes Omar

:05:23.:05:27.

Badreddin, was at the heart of the case against them.

:05:28.:06:08.

Their nightmare began on May the tenth this year, the first the

:06:09.:06:17.

family knew of their son Omar's arrest was when he didn't come home.

:06:18.:07:20.

Omar and one of his co-accused spent a month in Durham prison before

:07:21.:07:26.

getting bail. Jordan is where I first met Omar's

:07:27.:08:22.

family in November last year, just before they moved to the UK and the

:08:23.:08:27.

next extraordinary chapter in their lives began. Like many Syrians, they

:08:28.:08:34.

were renting a flat in the capital. I mother, father and four children

:08:35.:08:38.

who had fled Syria two years before, leaving one son, their eldest,

:08:39.:08:41.

Abdul, behind. There are 670,000 Syrian refugees

:08:42.:08:56.

living in Jordan. With their father blind in one eye and suffering

:08:57.:08:59.

various health conditions, only Omar, who was then 17 Thommo could

:09:00.:09:05.

earn money. He worked 14 hour days in a shoe shop. After paying for

:09:06.:09:12.

water, food and rent, there was no money left for schooling. The

:09:13.:09:17.

children had lost years of formal education, though they tried to keep

:09:18.:09:23.

up. They are from Muthana, near Damascus. At our first meeting, they

:09:24.:09:31.

told me they had gone on peaceful demonstrations against the

:09:32.:09:34.

Government when the uprising began. The army cracks down.

:09:35.:10:11.

We can't verify the truth of these claims, but the family and their

:10:12.:10:20.

testimonies have been vetted by UNHCR to get into Britain, because

:10:21.:10:24.

unlike most Syrian refugees, they were lucky, deemed vulnerable enough

:10:25.:10:31.

by UNHCR to require resettlement. Last November, Britain took them in.

:10:32.:10:35.

What was your first thought when you were told you were going to Britain?

:10:36.:10:51.

This family never planned to leave their home, never conceived of

:10:52.:10:57.

moving to Britain, but when they boarded that plane, they could not

:10:58.:10:59.

have envisaged what lay ahead. This is your house? The first time

:11:00.:11:25.

we met in Britain, they were settling into their new life, full

:11:26.:11:27.

of hope. They have a council flat in

:11:28.:11:38.

Newcastle. The council asked us not to identify where exactly.

:11:39.:11:45.

Omar and Mohammed? Like around 3000 Syrians so far, they have been

:11:46.:11:54.

brought to the UK on the Government's vulnerable persons

:11:55.:11:58.

relocation scheme, expanded by David Cameron last year. The family are

:11:59.:12:04.

3000 miles from Syria, but the front line is never far away.

:12:05.:12:11.

Now you are sitting here watching the news from here, further away

:12:12.:12:16.

from Syria, do you think the West should be doing more? What do you

:12:17.:12:18.

think should be happening? As new arrivals, apart from school

:12:19.:13:14.

and English classes, the family mainly stayed at home. Omar at this

:13:15.:13:19.

stage didn't appear to have friends or a social life, and his father

:13:20.:13:23.

poured over the so-called Caesar files, more than 50,000 images

:13:24.:13:28.

smuggled out of Syria, many of which apparently document people who have

:13:29.:13:32.

died in government detention, his friends amongst them. Who is this

:13:33.:13:34.

man? How did you know him? Bashar al-Assad was asked about

:13:35.:14:07.

these, and he said, you say this is torture, but anybody could have done

:14:08.:14:09.

it, the Syrian government hasn't done this.

:14:10.:14:31.

Marwan claims to speak from experience. Torture is one of the

:14:32.:14:39.

criteria listened as qualifying Syrians for the resettlement are

:14:40.:14:43.

grand that brought the family to Britain he was tortured either

:14:44.:14:44.

regime. What did they do to you? For this family, things were about

:14:45.:16:00.

to get a lot worse. Their first ever trip to the beach was perhaps the

:16:01.:16:04.

last time Maymouna would smile before their lives would implode

:16:05.:16:13.

again. This conservative family stood out a bit in ten white, even

:16:14.:16:21.

on the beach, for some members, paddling on the beach is done fully

:16:22.:16:22.

clothed. Less than two months after this day

:16:23.:16:42.

trip, Omar was arrested. But one of his sons on remand in a British

:16:43.:16:47.

prison, only a few days later, another misfortune struck the

:16:48.:16:51.

family. They talked to me about their eldest son, who they said got

:16:52.:16:55.

stuck in Syria when they fled. In May they heard he had died.

:16:56.:17:19.

Like much that happens in civil War, the truth is Liz McColgan kidded and

:17:20.:17:27.

we later learned that for the past year, he was fighting for an

:17:28.:17:31.

Islamist group. All of this father denied that made him an extremist.

:17:32.:17:43.

A sexual assault in this park would have put their second son behind

:17:44.:19:00.

bars. Face of it the case involves three older men preying on two

:19:01.:19:04.

underage girls but the court heard one of the girls had told lies in

:19:05.:19:09.

the past. The defence wanted it to run out and damning statements made

:19:10.:19:12.

by the men in police interviews turned out to have been

:19:13.:19:16.

mistranslated. As the evidence emerged, Syrian men appeared less

:19:17.:19:21.

sexually experienced than the girls who they were supposed to have

:19:22.:19:24.

attacked. Another defendant revealed he had never even seen two people

:19:25.:19:30.

kissing. 18-year-old Omar told me he never had a sexual encounter of any

:19:31.:19:31.

kind. The reaction by far right groups to

:19:32.:19:58.

the impending trial was not surprising. But others, particularly

:19:59.:20:03.

since the six attacks in Cologne, were ready to blame cultural

:20:04.:20:07.

differences by the way the Syrians were alleged to have behaved. His

:20:08.:20:12.

parents never accepted that. Do you think it is possible that boys like

:20:13.:20:18.

Omar see women in the West, girls in the West, they view them differently

:20:19.:20:23.

from how they view and the respect they have for women from their own

:20:24.:20:24.

culture? No. No. Britain has promised 20,000 Syrians

:20:25.:21:03.

will be resettled in the UK by 2020 on the same scheme as a family. I

:21:04.:21:09.

asked local council had offered new arrivals, 73 in Newcastle, any

:21:10.:21:11.

classes on attitudes to in Britain. Did you talk to Omar and other

:21:12.:21:33.

children about what the council said in that cultural talk?

:21:34.:21:47.

With the trial hanging over them, they have tried to make these

:21:48.:21:53.

difficult times happier for their other children. They have been

:21:54.:21:56.

introduced to the cultures and traditions of the strange new land,

:21:57.:22:00.

learning more about a country they will likely never call home.

:22:01.:22:02.

Especially after what has happened. This visit to the beach feels like

:22:03.:22:51.

an age ago, A time of optimism when Britain felt like it was offering a

:22:52.:22:55.

new start. Now they are grateful that justice can beat me to died

:22:56.:23:00.

fairly but for them, indication has come too late to repair the

:23:01.:23:04.

reputational damage a family with so little prizes so very much. --

:23:05.:23:05.

vindication. Scotland's First Minister has fired

:23:06.:23:08.

a warning shot to Theresa May that she must listen

:23:09.:23:13.

to the SNP on Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon told her party

:23:14.:23:19.

conference today that if the Conservative government

:23:20.:23:23.

was not prepared to listen, she'd demand a second

:23:24.:23:25.

Independence Referendum. She confirmed to the surprise

:23:26.:23:26.

of many supporters that she would publish a referendum

:23:27.:23:28.

bill for consultation next week. Or a step on the way

:23:29.:23:31.

to a second vote? Nick Watt is at the conference

:23:32.:23:35.

for us. Well, this was the week when the

:23:36.:23:44.

harsh reality of Brexit across the UK struck home. First it was

:23:45.:23:47.

turning, then the supermarkets and today Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon

:23:48.:23:53.

caused some surprise when she said she wanted to create the possibility

:23:54.:23:58.

of an independent Scotland being ready to join the EU before those

:23:59.:24:02.

Brexit negotiations have concluded. If it is a hard Brexit. I will be

:24:03.:24:08.

joined by the Scottish transport minister but first, here is my take

:24:09.:24:17.

on the events of today. It's wild expanses can make Scotland feel

:24:18.:24:23.

remote from the rest of the UK. But today, this semi-detached corner of

:24:24.:24:27.

Britain showed that it can shape events across our island. I can

:24:28.:24:31.

confirm... APPLAUSE

:24:32.:24:40.

I can confirm today that the independence Referendum Bill will be

:24:41.:24:42.

published for consultation next week.

:24:43.:24:47.

APPLAUSE Nicola Sturgeon has been treading

:24:48.:24:51.

carefully since the EU referendum after the people of Scotland took a

:24:52.:24:54.

different view to the rest of the UK and voted to remain. Unexpected

:24:55.:25:01.

spike in support for independence failed to materialise but today the

:25:02.:25:04.

Scottish first Minister warns Theresa May that she might formally

:25:05.:25:09.

demand a second independence referendum before the end of the EU

:25:10.:25:13.

negotiations if the Prime Minister negotiates a hard Brexit. The SNP's

:25:14.:25:21.

new Deputy Leader says his party does mean business. Perhaps what is

:25:22.:25:24.

happening at the conference is a wake-up call and there needs to be a

:25:25.:25:28.

realisation in Downing Street and in the Labour Party that there is a

:25:29.:25:34.

strong mandate in Scotland to protect our place in Europe and if

:25:35.:25:39.

our friends site of the border do not get that, we are going to get on

:25:40.:25:44.

with it ourselves. It was a big moment when the first minister but a

:25:45.:25:48.

second independence referendum on the table, delegates who feared she

:25:49.:25:51.

was going soft on the defining issue for their party left to their feet

:25:52.:25:56.

but Nicola Sturgeon is no gambler and she made clear she would only

:25:57.:26:00.

take this momentous step if she fails in her first girl to build up

:26:01.:26:05.

a cross-party Alliance to campaign against a hard Brexit for the whole

:26:06.:26:11.

of the UK. But events might move more quickly than the SNP had

:26:12.:26:16.

expected. Donald Tusk, European Council president, said in Brussels

:26:17.:26:21.

today there is only one way to leave the EU- are hard Brexit. In my

:26:22.:26:27.

opinion, the only real alternative to a hard Brexit is no Brexit.

:26:28.:26:37.

APPLAUSE Even if today, hardly anyone

:26:38.:26:43.

believes in such a possibility. Angus Robertson made clear that a

:26:44.:26:47.

referendum will be held if that is the only way to preserve Scotland's

:26:48.:26:55.

membership. Unless you realise that remain means remain, we will take

:26:56.:26:59.

the power into our own hands as a nation whether people are sovereign,

:27:00.:27:03.

having voted 62% to remain, and will do whatever it takes be sure we

:27:04.:27:09.

protect our place in Europe. Scotland's most eminent historian,

:27:10.:27:14.

who supports independence, warns that an early second referendum

:27:15.:27:18.

would be a risk. It would be counter-productive for the current

:27:19.:27:23.

government to go again to the country until, as they previously

:27:24.:27:28.

said, something like 60% of April independence vote in the opinion

:27:29.:27:31.

polls over a period of time. One of the things that concerned me about

:27:32.:27:35.

this is the Canadian situation. Quebec. When they left it for too

:27:36.:27:43.

long to go for the other boat and the constitutional position in

:27:44.:27:48.

Canada is more or less stable. The leader of the Scottish Conservatives

:27:49.:27:53.

agrees. I think Nicola Sturgeon is trying to ride two horses, half of

:27:54.:27:57.

the members want another referendum tomorrow and she is trying to keep

:27:58.:28:01.

them happy and she also has the opinion polls telling her we don't

:28:02.:28:04.

want another referendum, we want to move on and it was another one

:28:05.:28:08.

tomorrow she would lose, she knows then she would have to go and the

:28:09.:28:14.

SNP independence project would be defeated. Ruth Davidson warns that

:28:15.:28:18.

Scots might not be wildly enamoured of the EU. Very few people who go to

:28:19.:28:28.

sleep underneath European flag... That is a hard sell. I would not

:28:29.:28:31.

underestimate that one was not a proxy vote from the other. The

:28:32.:28:36.

largest block of supporters of any political party that voted to leave

:28:37.:28:39.

the European Union and Scotland were SNP voters, around 400,000, if it

:28:40.:28:45.

was not a proxy for others... I want to stay part of the UK but I've

:28:46.:28:49.

ordered to remain so the SNP cannot co-opt my vote to mean something

:28:50.:28:57.

else. The warnings from north of the border were given short shrift in

:28:58.:29:01.

London, which believes Nicola Sturgeon might be bluffing. Theresa

:29:02.:29:04.

May will hope she only has to battle over one union. I am joined by Hamza

:29:05.:29:12.

Yousuf, the Scottish transport minister. Nicola Sturgeon outlined a

:29:13.:29:19.

two point plan, forming a coalition of the willing across the UK to keep

:29:20.:29:23.

Britain in the single market but that does not work she talks about a

:29:24.:29:27.

referendum on independence before the end of those negotiations. If it

:29:28.:29:32.

is a hard Brexit but today Donald Tusk said there is only one form of

:29:33.:29:38.

Brexit and it is hard. Why not hold that referendum right now? The first

:29:39.:29:43.

Minister is doing what she said she would do in the run-up to the

:29:44.:29:48.

Scottish election but the European referendum, that would be that we

:29:49.:29:52.

maintain our place in the EU if Scots wanted that and they did. We

:29:53.:29:56.

will put together a proposal which will hopefully not just give

:29:57.:29:58.

Scotland and the single market, I want to see the whole of the UK

:29:59.:30:01.

remaining within the single market and the ball would be in the Court

:30:02.:30:04.

of Theresa May, if she can secure those proposals, secure those

:30:05.:30:08.

interests for Scotland then that would be great, we will stay within

:30:09.:30:12.

the EU and will have access to the single market. If not, we reserve

:30:13.:30:15.

the right to have that referendum and that option is on the table. It

:30:16.:30:20.

is not the first resort. Do not have a problem? You thought there would

:30:21.:30:24.

be a surge of support for independence if the UK voted out of

:30:25.:30:29.

the EU. That has not happened and also, your fiscal prospectus you put

:30:30.:30:34.

before Scotland in 2014 has disappeared with collapse in the oil

:30:35.:30:35.

price? Let's take those points one by one.

:30:36.:30:45.

On the financial and fiscal case the independence, we put together a

:30:46.:30:51.

report by various economists, I think we could have done better on

:30:52.:30:55.

the economic case for independence, but we need to go through those

:30:56.:30:59.

arguments and put together a stronger case for the economy. But

:31:00.:31:04.

before we get to that point, we are not saying we will hold an

:31:05.:31:08.

independence referendum immediately. Every poll has shown an increase in

:31:09.:31:13.

independence, but let's argue for Scotland's interests and make sure

:31:14.:31:16.

that we can protect Scotland's lace within the European Union, access to

:31:17.:31:21.

the single market, but if that is not able to be secured, then we

:31:22.:31:24.

reserve the right to hold another referendum.

:31:25.:31:28.

But here we are talking about Scotland and the Constitution, but

:31:29.:31:31.

you failed to get a majority in the Holyrood election earlier this year.

:31:32.:31:36.

Don't you need to be talking about bread-and-butter issues? I don't

:31:37.:31:40.

think it is one or the other. The two I linked. We achieved a historic

:31:41.:31:45.

third term that no other political party has achieved in the Scottish

:31:46.:31:50.

Parliament, so that is a huge mandate for us to move forward.

:31:51.:31:54.

Literacy and numerous erects are falling, you should be defined on

:31:55.:31:58.

that not the Constitution. NHS waiting list are going down, record

:31:59.:32:02.

investment in our transport system, we're doing incredible things in the

:32:03.:32:06.

third term like free prescriptions, three education, concessionary

:32:07.:32:11.

travel. We are getting on with the job, but we shouldn't say that we

:32:12.:32:17.

won't be protected Scotland's interests. If we don't get access to

:32:18.:32:23.

the single market, that will affect businesses. There was a widespread

:32:24.:32:28.

knowledge report today that that could reduce wages by ?2000 for

:32:29.:32:33.

workers. That is people's real life, so we have to protect Scotland's

:32:34.:32:38.

interests as best we can. And indeed, as you say, get on with the

:32:39.:32:42.

bread-and-butter job of Government. If we weren't doing that, we

:32:43.:32:46.

wouldn't have been elected for a third term. OK, Humza Yousaf, thank

:32:47.:32:50.

you very much. MLA, back to you in the studio.

:32:51.:32:55.

Marmite, it seems, will live to see another day on UK

:32:56.:32:58.

This evening, Unilever confirmed the price dispute was over.

:32:59.:33:01.

Last night Tesco halted sales of many Unilever brands

:33:02.:33:03.

after the supplier threatened to raise prices due to a fall

:33:04.:33:06.

Last night on this programme, former Northern Foods Chairman Lord Haskins

:33:07.:33:10.

told me that Brexit had thrown what he called a "huge wobble"

:33:11.:33:13.

Lord Simon Wolfson, the CEO of Next, who today announced the Wolfson

:33:14.:33:19.

Economics Prize would be awarded to the best solution for overhauling

:33:20.:33:21.

We are going to come onto roads and your prize in a moment. Thank you

:33:22.:33:33.

for coming in. As a retailer, how do you make sense of a dispute that

:33:34.:33:37.

seemed to be making such waves last night, and has gone today? I think

:33:38.:33:44.

the reality is it is probably a very bad idea to have your negotiations

:33:45.:33:47.

in public, but underlying all of this is the simple fact, if that

:33:48.:33:52.

pound devalued by a lot, then prices of imported goods will go up, and

:33:53.:33:56.

there isn't any way around that. I don't think they will go up by as

:33:57.:34:00.

much as people think, and not as much as the pound has devalued,

:34:01.:34:05.

because retailers will negotiate as hard as they can to keep prices

:34:06.:34:09.

where they are. And it will be the same on the high street? Is that

:34:10.:34:12.

something you with your stores and others would expect a scene for the

:34:13.:34:16.

consumer? Yes, it will flow eventually through to the economy,

:34:17.:34:20.

but the thing to bear in mind is most of us have bought our currency

:34:21.:34:24.

for next year already, so these changes will take time, and it

:34:25.:34:27.

depends whether pound ends up, and that will depend on people's

:34:28.:34:32.

confident in the British economy, which is where things like investing

:34:33.:34:34.

in infrastructure is so important, because those things will get our

:34:35.:34:40.

economy moving. I know you hate the term is hard and soft Brexit, but

:34:41.:34:43.

you have warned against becoming isolationist as a country. What is

:34:44.:34:48.

the direction you favour at the moment? Do we need to be in the

:34:49.:34:53.

single market? Can only flourish out of the single market? What would be

:34:54.:34:57.

best for you as a businessman? The hard and soft Brexit language is

:34:58.:35:02.

very dangerous. What we need to say is do we want an open or closed

:35:03.:35:07.

Brexit. If we are going to pull up the drawbridge and set up all sorts

:35:08.:35:10.

of barriers, then our economy will fail. So it is important that we

:35:11.:35:14.

remain in a customs union? Not necessarily. What is important is

:35:15.:35:19.

that we remain an open economy, and that depends on our attitude to all

:35:20.:35:22.

sorts of things like immigration, trade agreements with other

:35:23.:35:26.

countries as well as the European Union, and our attitude of going

:35:27.:35:29.

into negotiations with an open mind and wanting to get the best

:35:30.:35:32.

Austevoll deal for Britain. And contributions? We have understood we

:35:33.:35:39.

will probably be paying quite substantial amounts of money to get

:35:40.:35:42.

access in some shape or form to the single market? Is that money worth

:35:43.:35:47.

paying now? I think it depends on what we get in return, and

:35:48.:35:51.

ultimately running any form of free trade organisation will involve some

:35:52.:35:56.

cost. If those costs are reasonable than they are worth paying. But

:35:57.:36:00.

ultimately we have to recognise that the more free trade we have in the

:36:01.:36:03.

world the better. That doesn't mean we can't be an independent nation.

:36:04.:36:07.

One of the things people got confused about is they assumed

:36:08.:36:12.

Brexit is a vote isolation, but is about the independence. Whether we

:36:13.:36:17.

become isolated or a free trading at Wood looking nation depends on what

:36:18.:36:20.

the Government does in the next two or three years. And you are looking

:36:21.:36:26.

specifically at roads and infrastructure around them with your

:36:27.:36:29.

prize. Do you think more money should be going into that? It should

:36:30.:36:33.

be going in the right way, and politicians love to talk about how

:36:34.:36:37.

much they are spending, but it is whether it is spent well or badly.

:36:38.:36:41.

Investment in bad infrastructure is wealth destruction, investment in

:36:42.:36:47.

good infrastructure creates wealth. 90% of our journeys are on roads.

:36:48.:36:54.

The taxpayer, the British road users, pay ?33 billion in taxes to

:36:55.:36:58.

use the roads, mainly through fuel tax, and the Government only spends

:36:59.:37:03.

?9 billion on roads. Do you think infrastructure has been ignored up

:37:04.:37:06.

until now? We know there has been this shift of focus away from QE to

:37:07.:37:13.

infrastructure. Do you think that is overdue? I think the emphasis has

:37:14.:37:18.

been an wrong infrastructure, grand projects like HS2, Hinkley point.

:37:19.:37:22.

Big projects that cost an enormous amount of money rather than the

:37:23.:37:26.

myriad of small projects we need, things like the extra little mini

:37:27.:37:29.

roundabout that will make someone's Jenny to work 20 minutes faster. So

:37:30.:37:34.

you would get rid of HS2 and Hinkley point? I think we need to look at

:37:35.:37:40.

the returns Government are getting on any type of investment, and that

:37:41.:37:44.

should make money for Government, because it is all of our money that

:37:45.:37:48.

they are investing. The road user gets a benefit with a better road,

:37:49.:37:52.

and the Government should get the return from investing in it. If they

:37:53.:37:56.

don't, and there is no return in HS2, there is a real risk that the

:37:57.:38:01.

money will be wasted. If it is invested in the roads, it can get

:38:02.:38:04.

people to work faster and home faster, there is a chance not only

:38:05.:38:10.

of improved quality-of-life but also of boosting our economy. Thank you

:38:11.:38:13.

very much for coming in. Thank you very much.

:38:14.:38:16.

When Margaret Atwood wrote The Handmaid's Tale

:38:17.:38:18.

more than 30 years ago, a dystopian novel of female

:38:19.:38:20.

subjugation, many told her the world she created was too

:38:21.:38:23.

Today, she won the Pen Pinter Prize, awarded for an "unflinching,

:38:24.:38:27.

unswerving gaze upon the world" and says she believes today's

:38:28.:38:29.

political climate in America means the work has more resonance

:38:30.:38:31.

I went to meet her as she publishes her latest novel, Hagseed,

:38:32.:38:35.

I began by asking her whether she ever imagined reality

:38:36.:38:39.

would get anywhere close to the world she created

:38:40.:38:41.

Probably writing The Handmaid's Tale, which Harold Pinter did the

:38:42.:38:55.

screenplay for, that was when I first met him. So that, because I

:38:56.:39:02.

used nothing in the book that hadn't been done at sometime somewhere. And

:39:03.:39:06.

do you think with The Handmaid's Tale it feels like it belongs to an

:39:07.:39:10.

era, or could you be writing the book today without it having dated?

:39:11.:39:15.

Unfortunately, at the time I wrote it there were people who were saying

:39:16.:39:19.

I don't think people are saying that much any more.

:39:20.:39:25.

Because of the kinds of things we have seen coming out

:39:26.:39:27.

Just recently the hashtag #RepealThe19th, which means take

:39:28.:39:35.

So that comes dangerously close to the world of The Handmaid's Tale.

:39:36.:39:43.

I doubt that you would get those exact same costumes!

:39:44.:39:52.

But a lot of the diminishment, disempowerment, disenfranchisement

:39:53.:39:54.

What is it that brings you to The Tempest?

:39:55.:40:09.

And is it too simplistic to say you were inspired by the political

:40:10.:40:12.

Because I started writing this several years ago but those themes

:40:13.:40:21.

of revenge and power are, of course, in a lot

:40:22.:40:25.

of Shakespeare's work and in a lot of work of all kinds.

:40:26.:40:34.

Those are two very strong human themes.

:40:35.:40:37.

Among other things, we see Trump already feeling that he should get

:40:38.:40:44.

revenge on the Republican Party for not going along

:40:45.:40:46.

I want to just get back to Felix and Hagseed, and getting back at people.

:40:47.:41:09.

That seems to be how it is working in various parts of the world.

:41:10.:41:16.

Except that people are being blamed for conditions that they have not in

:41:17.:41:22.

fact created. Like what? Like what. Is it the fault of all Muslim

:41:23.:41:28.

immigrants to the United States that there have been some terror attacks?

:41:29.:41:36.

Like that. Let me just ask you about the Nobel Prize for Literature

:41:37.:41:43.

awarded to Bob Dylan. What you think about that?

:41:44.:41:47.

I think it is a very strategically placed win.

:41:48.:41:49.

The US election and everything that is going on there.

:41:50.:41:52.

A US countercultural figure from the '60s is selected.

:41:53.:41:55.

You think it was intended to send a message

:41:56.:42:05.

But these things are often political in the broad sense of the term.

:42:06.:42:17.

So choosing a person from that time, that place, who had that message,

:42:18.:42:20.

I would say is sending a very broad message, which is not

:42:21.:42:23.

And in this scenario, Trump is the Nixon of

:42:24.:42:41.

We don't know because I can't read people's minds.

:42:42.:42:48.

Margaret Atwood talking to me earlier. That's all we have time for

:42:49.:43:04.

this evening. Evan is back here tomorrow night. Good night.

:43:05.:43:14.

Hello there. It was cold if you were caught in the wind and showers.

:43:15.:43:22.

Probably colder in the south, although we have fewer showers here.

:43:23.:43:29.

Bracing in the North, and there will still be showers

:43:30.:43:31.

In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Emily Maitlis. Covering the story of the Syrian refugee accused of sexual assault in Newcastle, the prospect of a new referendum for Scotland, the Marmite economy, and Margaret Atwood.


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