Theresa May has spent her time ringing around the capitals of the EU hoping to get something out of their leaders that she can take back to Westminster to convince MPs to vote her deal through.

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So, our PM has been banging the telephone buttons trying to get hold of the other EU leaders and get them to hand over some Brexit Irish backstop reassurances, has she?

You can imagine it can't you? The other leaders were probably quite happy to get the first calls all saying happy new year and I hope you had a great Christmas, how's the family. You know, like the telemarketer who greets you with a how are you etc to try and engage with you when you pick the phone up.

But things probably got a bit more difficult when the talk inevitably turned to Brexit and the Irish backstop issue.

At first it will have been all polite and 'can't talk now', or 'just going out', or 'I'll call you back' – you know, the usual excuses we all use.

And you can imagine Theresa May then tiresomely phoning back having thought of another angle to pursue and pleading in her desperation to flog life into her dead deal.

"You'll get Corbyn!" she'll be weeping into her phone.

You can then see those leaders doing what you and I do, blocking her number on their smartphones and contacting their equivalent of the telephone preference service (TPS) to stop the nuisance calls coming in.

The trouble for Theresa is that the EU has said it is not now going to budge, that's it! No more talk!

And a spokesperson for the EU Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said at a press conference today that no more meetings between the EU27 and the UK were foreseen as the talks had concluded and that the EU27 leaders had made it clear that what was on the table was not up for renegotiation.

They will now probably just sit back and watch, waiting to see what happens.

Now, according to a Guardian report, the UK is facing huge shortages of skilled workers, the worst since 1989 it says, and of course it blames Brexit.

The report cites the British Chamber of Commerce that says 81% of manufacturers and 70% of service sector firms can't find enough people with the right qualifications and experience.

So here we have a country where we have a record high population with every day that passes, a record number of graduates, a record number of apprentices and more young workers still pouring in from around the world every day with net migration still running at over a quarter of a million a year and we can't find skilled workers?

Just look at this chart that I put together from ONS statistics and look at the yellow line of net migration. Net migration was lower than it is now right up until 2014. How many more do they want?

UK Net Migration Chart

But I suppose opening a new box of migrants is always cheaper than paying workers more or investing in their training here in the UK.

Now, can you get this. After nearly two years of backing Brussels to the hilt in its drive to push the UK to the edge in the Brexit negotiations, the Republic of Ireland suddenly finds itself holding the nasty, gooey end of the stick as a no deal Brexit looms.

They had thought they held all the cards and that we would just cave in, but now that a no-deal WTO Brexit is firmly on the cards, the economic ramifications are beginning to hit home.

As a consequence, the Republic's agriculture minister, Michael Creed, has declared that in the event of a no deal Brexit, he will be asking Eurocrats for a staggering amount of Euros for an aid package to help Irish businesses.

"You're looking at hundreds of millions here. Between the beef industry and the fishing industry we're talking mega-money." Said Mr Creed.

And he also said:

"There is a high level of awareness of Ireland's unique exposure to the UK food market. But I think nobody wants to talk about it right now because there is still a hope and expectation that a level of sanity will prevail."

Here I would like to point out that, having helped to increase the chances of a no-deal coming to pass by joining in with the rest of the EU in playing hard-ball with the UK, then the the government of the Republic has helped the EU make the bed and the Irish people may well have to lie in it. Where was the sanity back then?

This is the moment when The Irish PM, Leo Varadkar, finds out if all those claims that the EU will stand with the Republic of Ireland over the border issue extends beyond mere words and includes a cash injection of many hundreds of millions of euros. A cash injection that could well convert the Republic from very recently becoming a net contributor to the EU, back into a net receiver of funds.

I wonder if Varadkar has anything in writing and legally binding?

And with no deal there should be no £39 billion of UK money for the Brussels coffers, so the EU will be looking for more money from the Republic of Ireland, not to start handing it out again.

The Irish end of the stick looks very gooey doesn't it?

Sources:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2019/jan/03/theresa-may-ring-round-eu-leaders-fails-restart-brexit-talks-irish-backstop

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2018/dec/31/theresa-may-talking-eu-leaders-hope-brexit-commons-vote

https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/november2018

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2019/jan/03/uk-manufacturers-face-biggest-worker-shortage-in-30-years-brexit

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/politics/brexit-news-latest-major-blow-to-theresa-may-as-eu-confirms-no-further-meetings-on-brexit-deal-a4029831.html

https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/1066537/Brexit-news-Ireland-UK-EU-Michael-Creed-agriculture-no-deal-Brexit-European-Union-aid

https://www.rte.ie/news/brexit/2017/1201/924141-tusk-to-meet-varadkar-as-brexit-talks-intensify/

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