Despite the prime Minister, Theresa May, claiming there has been no customs union climb down, Leave.EU has called her latest Irish Backstop plan a craven betrayal of Brexit.

The PM has said that the UK will be leaving the EU customs union and single market, but the indications are now that the UK will keep on collecting the EU's Common External Tariffs at our borders well after the end of the transition phase on the 31st December 2020.

This will effectively push our customs union membership into 2021 and possibly beyond.

Leave.EU said:

"The fudge is being labelled the new Irish “backstop” (as opposed to the other backstop, which would see Britain remain in Customs Union if the British government cannot come up with an alternative…oh wait, that’s exactly the same thing). Sources claim it will be strictly “time-limited”, which does nothing to assure us the cutoff point will be in the short term as opposed to forever."

And Jacob Rees-Mogg said:

We have gone from a clear endpoint, to an extension, to a proposed further extension with no end point.

“People voted Leave, they did not vote for a perpetual purgatory.

And my question is, will it just end up being the collection of tariffs, or will it bring demands for the continuation of the four freedoms of movement with it too?

Now back to the House of Lords.

Unsurprisingly, that arch Remoaning polisher of the House of Lords red benches, Lord Adonis, is not happy about a report that Theresa May is set to appoint ten new peers to the Lords to try and get the Brexit/Remain see-saw in the upper house more in her favour.

Adonis said:

"This is a classic example of packing the Lords to try and make Brexit easier to endorse."

As far as I can see, the PM would probably need nearer a hundred new peers to do that! And isn't it a bit late in the day now anyway?

According to the Guardian she might actually appoint them by the end of the week! And there are also expectations that Labour will add three to its own numbers too.

All after a report last year that said the numbers should be reduced by 25%!

So, the House of Lords just continues on and gets an ever larger membership.

Now to housing!

According to a new report from Heriott-Watt University, England has a back-log of 3.91 million homes, which means that 340,000 new houses need to be built every year until 2031!

Back in 2016, a House of Lords Committee put the number at 300,000 a year basically until further notice.

And a more recent House of Lords debate on housebuilding in the UK on 11th January this year says that the overall consensus puts the need for England alone at somewhere between 240,000 and 300,000 new homes every year.

But as you can guess the actual new home delivery has been somewhere around the 168,000 per annum mark in the whole of the UK, according to Ian Mulheirn of Oxford Economics.

And what drives this need? A rising population of course. And what is the main driver behind the population increase? Net immigration!

And when supply does not meet the demand for a living necessity, what happens to prices? They rocket up of course!

And why can't we build more houses here? A combination of space and the need for all the infrastructure that goes with them as well as, importantly, lots of money to build the houses.

But still the Remainers and open border types will ignore this most obvious set of facts – I await their usual comments that rising house prices have nothing at all to do with a rising population that cannot generate enough money to house itself.

Some will even shoot themselves in both feet by claiming that we have a shortage of skilled people to build the houses we need, to which I will ask what are the hundreds of thousands of people we let in to the country every year, qualified to do then? Surely there is a sufficiency of brickies, electricians and plumbers amongst them?

Now to trade.

The Tory MP for Southampton and Itchen, Royston Smith, says that Number Ten is over-complicating things and that the solution to imports and exports post-Brexit lies in its ports.

While Remainers wail about lorries backing up across the country trying to get in and out past customs etc, the MP says surely as someone with a major port in his constituency he cannot be the only one that thinks the technology we need to overcome these problems already exists.

In an article for the Times, which he re-publishes on his own website, Royston Smith says:

"The Port of Southampton is the UK’s number one export port, handling exports worth £40 billion every year; it is the UK’s number one automotive port; it is home to the nation’s second largest container terminal, not to mention the UK’s premier cruise port.

"Trade through the Port of Southampton flows smoothly and efficiently. And yet, 90% of that trade is with countries outside the European Union. How is this possible?"

He then points out that using technology, even though more than half of the UK's trade is now with the rest of the world outside the EU, only 1.3% of consignments coming into the port of Southampton from outside the EU are physically stopped for inspection.

As he says, in all this hyping up of project fear 2.0, facts have become the real casualty and he finishes by saying that leaving the customs union will not mean chaos at the nation's ports.

And on a positive note, the latest release from the Office for National Statistics on personal well-being in the UK says:

"Between the years ending December 2016 and 2017, average ratings of happiness and feeling that the things done in life are worthwhile have slightly increased in the UK."

Isn't that nice to know?

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