There are fewer than a thousand hours until the UK leaves the European Union, but people living there are still uncertain about what's going to happen. A "no deal", a long delay, a short delay, a hard Brexit or no Brexit at all, are still possible outcomes.

As the clock ticks down, there's concern that Brexit, in all its forms, will put Britain's health services under strain, and hospitals in the UK are preparing for shortages.

Adam Ramsay, investigative journalist from Open Democracy, worries that Brexit could lead to the dismantling of the National Health Service (NHS).

"The big concern about the NHS with Brexit ... is the way that a key think-tank, which has been influencing government policy very heavily around Brexit and which is pushing a very hard Brexit, is funded by an American trust called the Templeton Foundation in order to promote privatisation of the NHS. And obviously, that's an attempt by American healthcare companies to buy up whole sways of British healthcare." 

Politics is shaped by money - we all know that and if we don't know who's paying for what, then there's a massive threat to our debate.

Adam Ramsay, investigative journalist, Open Democracy

"So, it's not just about the fears that the government talks about, I am worried about the dismantling of the NHS through the process of Brexit."

Asked about the dark money influencing politics, Ramsay explains: "Dark money is any money that's used to influence politics and comes from a source that's hidden ... Many millions of pounds have been spent during the Brexit referendum, promoting a 'Leave' vote. And when we trace where that money comes from, it very quickly goes back to Britain's network of tax havens and secrecy areas and then it disappears ... so, we don't know who's pumping this money into our politics."

"But it also funds a lot of the main think-tanks ... and the groups trying to influence the Brexit process," Ramsay says. "Politics is shaped by money. We all know that and if we don't know who's paying for what, then there's a massive threat to our debate. Huge chunks of political debate are shaped by people who pretend to be there as sort of innocent intellectuals or think-tanks, but in reality, they're being paid for by some secret source or some business lobby groups."

"There are huge amounts of the money that paid for the Brexit referendum, turns out to have come from powerful business lobby groups ... who seem to be very keen to take Britain away from the regulation of the EU and drag it towards the kind of unregulated space of America, so they can do things like privatise the NHS, so they can slash regulations, so they can keep Britain as the world's money laundry."

Also on this episode of Counting the Cost:

Who really benefits in the 5G telecoms era? Technology companies are promising to change people's lives with super-fast wireless mobile networks. So-called "5G systems" are the main focus at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. But critics are warning of a growing digital divide, as Charlie Angela reports from Barcelona.

According to Ovum senior analyst Daniel Gleeson, "for starters, 5G's much faster [than 4G], you'll be downloading an HD movie in a matter of seconds rather than half an hour or so. The second and the most important part of 5G is the latency's much lower, and that's the response time of the system, like when you ask the internet for a webpage or to do something. That's very important for enabling new applications such as augmented reality, streaming virtual reality, cloud gaming, and many many other things."

Vietnam-US relations and a tiger economy in the making: Hanoi, Vietnam, was in the spotlight this week as the city played host to US President Donald Trump who met North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in their second face-to-face summit. Vietnam is being showcased by the US as an example of a foe-turned-friend. It's also one of Southeast Asia's new tiger cub economies. Kimberley Halkett reports from Hanoi.

Big pharma and the price of drugs: The heads of seven top pharmaceutical companies in the United States have been urged to do more to lower drug prices for consumers. The industry leaders were giving testimony before a Senate finance committee on the rising cost of medicines. It is expected to be a major issue in the 2020 presidential election campaign, as Alan Fisher reports from Washington, DC.

Source: Al Jazeera