MANY PEOPLE voted for Brexit because they did not like unelected people in Brussels making decisions about their future. It seems ironic then that they have ended up with elected people at Westminster failing to make decisions about their future.

The countdown to Brexit is now measured in days rather than weeks, yet the prime minister is still asking MPs to give her more time to negotiate with Brussels.

In reality there is no longer time available. It seems wrong that the core issue for the government is finding ways to stop the Conservative party splitting, rather than an outcome to protect jobs and investment in the UK.

The UK's relationship with the EU has always been more about politics than economics. Politics were to the fore when the UK sought to join the then EEC and the French kept saying 'non'. Brexit is now solely a political issue, and lost at Westminster is the reality that what is on the line is the future prosperity of millions of people and businesses.

It was lunacy for the government to enter into a contract with a ferry firm with no ships; it was bizarre this week to suggest converting ferry ships to destroyers for a new post-Brexit role for Britain. However it is arrogance that sees politicians ignoring the fallout from making such a big deal of the Irish backstop plan, even if the outcome damages the UK economy. One lesson they need to learn is that people can forgive stupidity, but they will never forgive arrogance where political ideals are deemed more important than livelihoods.

There is not a lot a farmer or anyone else in business can do. The farming lobby's warnings that a 'no deal' outcome would be disastrous are being ignored by politicians who insist they know better. All people can do is ask how the outcomes being debated would affect their own businesses.

Top of the list is 'no deal', come March 29. For agriculture we know from the farm unions and the food industry – both processors and retailers – that this would be the worst possible outcome. As such it should have been off the table long ago. To believe that having it there as a threat to scare Brussels into submission is again political arrogance.

There is now a new focus on staying in a customs union with the EU. This is infuriating Tory Brexiteers. It would mean trade continuing as normal, but outside membership to the CAP. It would probably mean following some of the cross compliance rules of the CAP, which could leave farmers having to implement rules over which they would have no say. That is not a good outcome, but the clean break future, promised in 2016 by those campaigning for Brexit, is impossible to deliver.

So far as agriculture is concerned, membership of a customs union would not be ideal, but it is doubtful whether it could possibly be worse than a 'no deal' situation. It would at least guarantee markets and help keep out sub-standard food from countries outside the EU-27. A former government minister said last week that a 'no deal' Brexit would bring about tariff-free food imports. His logic was that this would give people a Brexit bonus in the shape of cheaper food.

The other question farmers need to ask is whether they would gain from the UK being free to pursue its own global trade deals. This is the nirvana Brexiteers promise. The government sought to make much this week of signing draft post-Brexit trade arrangements with Switzerland, Lichtenstein and Chile. These simply continue the relationships we already have via the EU.

The EU has been aggressive in securing trade deals on behalf of all 28 member states and the UK is gaining from those. There is a lack of logic in suggesting UK negotiators could do better, unless their goal was a zero tariff game, which would certainly threaten agriculture.

Brexiteers make much of prospects for a trade deal with the United States. But there would be little for agriculture from a deal with a country more interested in exporting than importing, and which can undercut the UK on price because of lower standards.

On the 'what's in it for me' scale for farmers, the answer on new trade deals seems to be not a lot. Sadly that sums up a lot of the possibilities likely to emerge at Westminster if the Withdrawal Deal, with all its flaws, does not make it into legislation.