SCOTTISH RESEARCHERS made headlines this week for efforts to use face recognition software to identify livestock contentment and stress.

If this were applied at Westminster there would be few contented faces in the crowd. Brexit this week reached the point where you really could not make it up for a work of fiction. We are, officially, in a crisis – although that admission is a prime example of stating the obvious.

Events are now more 'Game of Thrones' than 'House of Cards'. Daily, the government is making the EU look statesmanlike and decisive while the UK government stumbles from crisis to even bigger crisis.

The trigger for the latest disaster was the Speaker of the House of Commons refusing to allow the Withdrawal Bill to return for a third vote. This was on grounds that precedent was against bringing the same motion back time and time again.

This may be right, but it was also proof that if 'hell hath no fury like a woman scorned' there are risks in scorning a Speaker by breaking precedent and denying him a seat in the Lords on retirement. His decision this week added to the sense that the prime minister is in office but not in power. Last week she gave in to Remainers in the cabinet and this week it was the turn of the Leavers. Next week who will be calling the shots is anyone's guess.

It seems now that the long extension to Brexit of up to two years is off the table. Instead the EU is being asked to delay the leaving date until the end of June, with a possible extension if this does not work. More in pain than anger they will probably give the UK time to sort things out.

No-one should be under any misplaced belief that the EU-27 is as fearful of a no deal Brexit as many people are in the UK. It would decimate agriculture here, but with deep pockets to protect those that would suffer, the EU could live with it. It knows this is the worst possible outcome and will take steps to avoid it, but not if the price is damage to the integrity of the EU 27.

Farming and food are a big part of that equation, and the reasons why no deal would be bad here and in the EU-27 are well known. One big difference is that farmers in the EU 27 have been assured of financial support if they find themselves in this situation.

Farmers here have no such assurance. Instead they have been promised a tariff regime that would open a back door for the EU 27 to supply the UK tariff free via the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, while we would face export tariffs. They have also been promised minimal tariff protection against a surge of cheap food imports.

This could be a classic lose/lose situation for agriculture, of which the UK farming lobby has united to warn for most of the 1000 days since the vote to leave the EU. However at Westminster there is no concern for agriculture, and that is deeply unfair to the UK regions where the industry is a key part of the economy.

Where this will all go is impossible to forecast. Brexit was supposed to be about independence of decision making, but we now have the EU looking at us with pity as a country incapable of delivering on a key policy. The United States says it is ready to sign on the dotted line for a trade deal, provided the UK distances itself from the EU and accepts GM food, chlorine washed chicken and hormone treated beef.

An old adage in journalism is to ask what something means to 'the man on the Clapham omnibus'. This was a phrase used in English courts in the 1900s to describe the average person. For farmers there are key questions to ask, but no-one to answer them. The farming lobby is raising these, but getting no response.

Before we even leave the EU, agriculture has lost its political influence. The mighty French and Irish farming lobbies will soon be opponents rather than allies. The biggest question of all is whether anyone in government cares about the uncertainty farming faces. The answer is probably no. They are all too busy dancing on the head of the Brexit pin to care about family farm businesses desperately worried about their future.