THE TERM 'bonfire' is a dangerous one for politicians to use.

When the Conservatives came back into power after the Tony Blair and Gordon Brown years, we were promised a bonfire of the quango organisations across all areas of business and social life. Any bonfire that happened was however a damp one, with the result that today these unelected organisations have more rather than less influence.

Now, over Brexit, the bonfire word is out again. Transition period or not, after we leave the EU in March 2019, the government is promising a bonfire of up to 50 EU regulations the next day.

It sees this as a way to show people that Brexit will deliver practical change. The list that has emerged includes things like state aid and competition rules and tendering procedures. But farmers would be unwise to hold their breath for any big changes in agriculture. This is ironic, given that it was frustration over red tape that prompted many farmers to vote 'leave'.

With trade discussions up in the air and no certainty yet as to whether future support arrangements will be better and freer of bureaucracy than the CAP, they need some firm evidence that voting to leave was a good choice. If it believes this to be the case, the government could include agriculture on its list for scrapping EU regulations the day after Brexit becomes official.

It could, for example, scrap compulsory ID for sheep, which was an EU regulation it opposed; it could scrap some of the red tape around greening, or ease back on compliance inspections. All these would be examples of changes that would have no negative consequences, but which would send a powerful sign to farmers that things are going to be different as a result of Brexit.

Such a gesture might even take farmers' minds off the reality of uncertainty about where and how they will sell what they produce, and how the industry will be supported.

While that would be a good outcome, it is hard to see it happening. To date everything the government in London has said about agriculture points to more and not less regulation. The acid test is the difference in how existing EU regulations are implemented here compared to other EU member states, with the most obvious example being Ireland.

The problem for farmers is that new rules will be drafted, implemented and policed by the same officials that have wrapped red tape around the CAP. The only difference is that they will no longer be able to lay the blame at the door of Brussels and the European Commission.

Most of the things that have been suggested for the UK point to more and not less paperwork, and a tightening rather than a loosening of what comes from Brussels. A support policy linked to environmental delivery and 'public good' can only mean more and not less regulation; higher animal welfare standards, promised by Michael Gove, have to mean more regulation, as do his policies around reducing waste and climate change mitigation.

Taking this view is not about being pro or anti-Brexit. The only show in town now is making a success of the inevitable. Given that the government in London has its eyes firmly set on selling Brexit to urban voters, it is hard to see any gestures being made to reward the many farmers who voted to leave the EU.

The government in London, in its comments on agriculture, has aligned itself with the green lobby. This makes sense for a party with a wafer-thin majority that needs to avoid a future general election result similar to the 2017 outcome. The problem with this approach is that it is not built around a rational debate. The hard line green agenda, as opposed to that of more pragmatic bodies like the RSPB, is to push harder and harder all the time for concessions.

Greenpeace, which likes to present itself as the ultimate voice of the green lobby, has said that the impact of climate change will only be avoided if there is a global 50% reduction in livestock production by 2050. That is a good headline grabber for them, and predictably it did just that.

With stakes like that being set in the debate about a future for agriculture, it is hard to see the government at Westminster adopting a farmer friendly approach to regulation – but over this, it would be lovely to be proved wrong on March 29 next year.