UK farming minister George Eustice handed in his formal resignation to Theresa May last Thursday, following her decision to allow MPs a vote to extend article 50 – which Mr Eustice warned would lead to “the final humiliation of our country”.

Mr Eustice, a vocal Brexiteer, has said that he will support the Prime Minister in her next meaningful vote, which is due to take place on March 12, but by resigning, he now will be able to argue from the back benches against the Brexit process being extended.

Two days prior to Mr Eustice’s resignation, he spoke exclusively with The Scottish Farmer at a parliamentary reception being held by Luke Graham MP, in Westminster, for the Scottish Association of Young Farmers. When asked what would happen in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the prospect of huge tariffs facing red meat producers, he said that the UK Government would step in with financial support.

“What we have said is if we have a crisis, we will put in place something like a slaughter house premium," said Mr Eustice. "A headage payment top up at the point of slaughter – the most direct, simplest way through an established process, to simply return some additional revenue on a headage basis to farmers in such a scenario.”

When asked if the UK Treasury supports his claims, he replied: “Oh yes, they are on board. They understand that in a no-deal situation there are lots of scenarios that they will have to respond to.”

There are concerns that future payments returning to the Scottish Government will not be ringfenced to agriculture, which Mr Eustice was quick to refute: “We have already said we would ringfence payments and will not be using the Barnett formula. If we didn’t do this, then there would be distortion in the market. If Scotland decided to allocate agricultural funds for the NHS then this wouldn’t be fair on Scottish farmers and likewise, English farmers would be at a disadvantage if it were the other way around,” he stressed.

When queried over the state of play in the House of Commons, where division is holding back Brexit progress, Mr Eustice replied: “Everything is in such a state of flux! We can’t get on and plan anything – we have this constant problem of whether we are going to leave at all and the endless arguments hanging over us.

“We are as ready as we can be to leave the EU, but when the Prime Minister comes back with some sort of new language on March 12, it probably won’t be enough to get a deal through,” he continued. “Then parliament will vote to delay, which will then leave us in a bit of a mess.

“The situation in parliament is very divisive – there are a lot of mixed opinions at large. I believe we need to get a partnership and a new agreement to harness that nuance,” he suggested. “As it stands there is no coming together with consensus – it’s as if we have been fighting a referendum internally.”

On the subject of future trade deal negotiations, Mr Eustice was adamant that the UK Government would never allow a deterioration in standards: “We have been very clear that we will keep our standards the same and will not water them down in the pursuit of a trade deal and we have said that clearly and publicly,” he insisted. “There are a number of amendments down for the Agriculture Bill and Trade Bill which the government is currently considering.

“There is this assumption that we might cave in and water down our standards in order to do a trade deal with the US – this is not the case,” he insisted. “The US has softened their language recently and the farming union is now saying that they respect our laws. Some of their agricultural businesses are throwing their weight around, but the smart ones are already changing their tune,” he said.