I DOUBT, given the week she has had, that the prime minister, Theresa May, would be capable of wry laughter.

However there was an irony in headlines this week that the government is planning to 'make divorce easier'. That is certainly not the case when it comes to the divorce between the UK and EU-27. That it is happening is almost beyond question; the chances of a reconciliation are remote and the alimony payments have been agreed. However, like the worst example of warring couples in films, one side is battling it out to the end, while the other wants things settled to move on to a new relationship.

Just when it seems things cannot get more crazy, they do. Someday, when the dust has settled, events in the Westminster bubble would make a great mini-series on television. It would be akin the original Westminster-based Michael Dobbs' House of Cards. The most recent twist is that the House of Commons bill to block a sudden 'no deal' Brexit was only won by a single vote. That came from an MP jailed for contempt of court over avoiding a speed camera fine, who returned to the Commons to vote that night. The outcome changed the course of Brexit and brought closer a Tory party split over Europe.

Most people, at some time, have experienced long car journeys with children, accompanied by wails of 'are we there yet'. Just as we avoid giving truthful answers to maintain peace in the back seat, the same attitude is being taken towards when the UK will leave the EU, if at all. The EU-27 is clearly fed up with what is going on. That is why it wants, like a parent with a recalcitrant child, to say sort this out whatever way you want – we will give you the time to do so, but don't keep requesting further extensions that there is no evidence are deliverable.

That makes sense, but it has implications for UK businesses. It will result in more uncertainty about what will finally emerge and it still leaves the prospect of a 'no deal' on the table. Equally it leaves open the prospect of the UK remaining in the EU, or at the other extreme a change of leadership of the Conservative party to a pro-Brexit prime minister who could demand a 'no deal' outcome if nothing has been signed. This has to heap pressure on MPs to accept the prime minister's withdrawal deal, on the basis that while it is not perfect it would provide certainty and prevent an even worse outcome. For agriculture a delay could mean that direct payments would continue to come via the EU system; it would however guarantee access to the single market and export trade deals negotiated by the EU for the rest of this year.

The Brexit advocates had many farmers convinced back in 2016 at the time of the referendum that everything about the EU was bad. They made their case from an entirely self-centred, largely English, perspective, forgetting the bigger picture that the EU has delivered a unique period of stability in Europe. That is now all water under the Brexit bridge, but the EU is still making new regulations that farmers would be happy to see implemented here.

It was the EU and European court that ruled that milk substitutes made from soy or nuts could not be described as milk. That is reserved for the product of mammals, and it extends to cheese and other dairy alternatives. This was on grounds that consumers were being deceived into believing that the products were directly comparable. By contrast the UK is in danger of giving into pressure from the vegan lobby for these products to be treated the same as milk for new mothers by the NHS, which would fly in the face of scientific fact.

The EU is also set to ban vegetarian products from using meat names. A prime example would be veggie burgers or sausages, which would have to avoid using 'meat' terms in their description. Equally the tough new rules the EU has brought in on unfair practices along the food chain go much further than existing rules in the UK and offer greater protection for farmers and others against the power of the big supermarkets. These are all good developments from the EU – and it is doubtful if the UK would be as farmer-friendly after Brexit.