THE PARLIAMENTARY recess – Westminster speak for the Easter holidays – has given us a blissful break from Brexit. Knives into backs are still being wielded, but they are mostly within the Conservative party as hopefuls jostle for position in the leadership race.

However Brexit is not a problem that has gone away. When MPs return from their break we will be no further forward. The same problems will be there and there is no certainty they will be solved by October. Realistically the timetable for finding a solution is short.

Confusion still abounds over every aspect of Brexit. It was reported at the start of this week that civil servants had been told to ease back on costly preparation for a 'no deal' Brexit. Then the Prime Minister rescinded this instruction, insisting on continuing preparations for a 'no deal' while trying to find a way forward. This suggests that political pressure from her Brexiteers has again prevailed over common sense.

Preparing for a 'no deal' outcome, for which there is no majority in parliament, is effectively planning for failure of the Brexit process. Keeping the option on the table is seen by some as a way of forcing the EU to negotiate again, but that is not going to happen. That will be the case regardless of who leads the Conservative party.

Many Conservatives and others believe a 'no deal' outcome would be the best option to separate the UK from the EU. The farming lobby has however made clear that this would be a disaster for farming, particularly in Scotland with its dependence on livestock. It would almost certainly bring a surge of cheap food imports, allowed in by the government to buy trade deals and to keep people happy about Brexit as the economy slows and jobs are lost. This really would be a lose – lose situation for farming.

Many farmers who voted for Brexit did so to escape regulations. They were assured then that a trade deal with the EU-27 would be both simple and automatic. We know now this is not the case. Those that believe farming could withstand a WTO exit from the EU are ignoring the economic logic of the position adopted by every organisation that represents farming and food.

Unfortunately economic logic is being swamped on every front by politics. The government is making much of its determination to avoid elections to the European parliament. These would certainly be a waste of money, but rules are rules and the UK has no option other than to take part if it is still an EU member. Logic would see people accepting this position and the fact that those elected are unlikely to take their seats. However it has gone beyond that, in that it will allow a protest vote over Brexit. That will make it a bloodbath for the Tories and the local elections could deliver a similar outcome.

Instead of seeing that as a reason to support the admittedly flawed withdrawal bill, and hope that better terms can be agreed in the detailed negotiations, Brexiteer Conservatives are prepared to throw all their toys out of the pram. This is less about country than a visceral and open loathing of Theresa May. They seem happy to pursue policies that will lead to that bloodbath, because it will favour leadership aspirations.

Ironically, give the party's lack of a majority in parliament, these tactics are more likely to force a general election. If polls are right that would see a number of Brexit supporting Conservatives lose their seats, and if those same polls are right it would also bring Jeremy Corbyn to Downing Street, with support from the SNP. That could trigger another Scottish independence vote as part of a deal, possibly bringing Scotland back into the EU.

These are all high politics, but none of the possible outcomes offer short term comfort or certainty for farmers. The Prime Minster's hope is that the prospect of an agreement with Labour on Brexit would bring Conservatives into line over her withdrawal bill, but that looks unlikely. Theresa May's best option would be to put country before party and get a deal through parliament before the European elections, albeit with Labour support. She could then wave goodbye to the Brexiteers of her own party and the DUP, and walk off into the sunset to write memoirs guaranteed to be a best seller for what they would reveal about the Brexit negotiations.