THE PHRASE 'I have good news and I have bad news' has been around since the 1800s – but over Brexit we have got to the point where we have forgotten what good news looks like.

In agriculture, it is good news that the four UK farm unions have a joint position on the issues that face the industry through and after Brexit.

These include trade, support and realistic environmental measures. The document makes the important point that environmental initiatives can only be delivered by profitable farm businesses. It is hard to be green when you are in the red.

The bad news in this equation is that while the farm unions are singing off the same hymn sheet, they are doing so to an empty church. Those that need to heed what they are saying are at Westminster, and they have no interest in agriculture now. This will only get worse as Brexit is set aide, potentially for months, to allow the Conservative party the navel gazing of a leadership election. Decisions would have to come from the Defra minister, Michael Gove, and he has bigger fish to fry. He may see environmental gestures as moves that would help his leadership ambitions, but not agriculture.

The biggest sporting comeback this year has been billed as Tiger Woods at the Masters, but in reality Scotland's comeback against England in the Six Nations rugby was bigger. Not winning after a stunning second half broke hearts far beyond Scotland. For Theresa May to get her new withdrawal plan over the line would demand a comeback that would dwarf both those sporting events. It is hard not to feel sorry for her, but she has played and is playing the game all wrong. Her reputation is in tatters, and her party is split in all but name. She describes her latest plan as new and bold, but it is neither.

Bold would have been to face down her critics by offering a customs union and a second referendum. Instead she has offered a rehash of a plan that has already failed. Her term as prime minister may not even make it to the parliamentary vote on her plan. That would see her go down as the worst Tory leader people can remember and arguably the worst prime minister of any party – apart perhaps from Frederick North in the 1750s whose intransigence triggered the loss of the colonies and America. That is a sad end for a woman committed to public service, but who in the end was just too indecisive to opt for party or country and who in the end will be seen to have failed both.

The European election results can only make matters worse for the government. The outcome will not be disclosed until after the rest of the EU has voted on Sunday. The only unknown now is whether Labour will also get a shock to a degree that might make it look differently at the May proposition when parliament returns from its Whitsun recess in the first week of June. That looks unlikely. The idea of a customs union, which would have suited agriculture, is still on the agenda but getting there will now be a lot more difficult. As to the seemingly doomed May offer of a fudged withdrawal deal, it is interesting that it promises to retain EU environmental rules. For agriculture that looks a lot like power without representation.

Many environmental rules are linked to the CAP and farmers that voted Brexit did so on the basis of promises about an independent agricultural policy for the UK. It seems now that this is on the list of things that are impossible to deliver. This can only force more and more farmers to ask what is the point of Brexit. As of now there are no guarantees on markets, food imports, support or a go-it-alone agricultural policy.

It is encouraging that the UK farming lobby is speaking with one voice. Hopefully that can remain the case, despite differences over the division between the UK regions of whatever funding pot finally emerges in London. The voice of agriculture in the political debate at Westminster is, for now, uniquely weak. However this is no surprise, given that the collapse this week of sterling and the potential loss of 25,000 jobs, directly and indirectly at British Steel, barely raised a political murmur.