UNLESS HE presses a self-destruct button, it is hard to see Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson not becoming leader of the Conservative party and prime minister.

This will bring a new dimension to the old Chinese curse about being forced to live through interesting times. Johnson will not be dull, but three years of uncertainty over Brexit and the future of farm support is about to get a lot worse.

If all goes according to the Johnson plan, he is about to get the job he has always wanted. While he might be a flag carrier for Brexit, even if that means leaving with 'no deal', his real goal all along has been to become prime minister. He is an opportunist rather than a conviction politician; he always saw Brexit as a route to the top.

When he succeeds in getting the job he craves he will have achieved his goal with the most unlikely CV for a Tory leader and prime minister. His record in politics is far from stellar. As mayor of London, his time in office was high on PR but short on real substance; he was an ineffectual and disinterested foreign secretary, viewing the job only as a stepping stone to greater things.

It was while in that role he responded to criticism by industry, through the CBI, of a no deal Brexit by saying 'F*** business'. That Theresa May did not sack him, given that the party is supposed to be rooted in support for business, was an early sign of the weakness that brought her down. Add to that Johnson's private life and it is not a background that would in the past have won over the Tory faithful. However Conservative associations, dominated by older, pro-Brexit members, view him as a messiah.

Johnson will move the issue of a 'no deal' Brexit up the agenda. He will make promises about taking on the European Commission to demand changes to the withdrawal deal on offer. However real life will intervene, and even if he is prime minister with a cabinet of Brexiteers, a 'no deal' exit in October is not entirely in his gift. Parliament will mount the same challenge it did before the leadership contest kicked off.

What could happen is that Johnson will be seen to talk tough with Brussels, and will publicly ignore advice from civil servants, as he did as foreign secretary and London mayor. With much grandstanding, he will then present a few tweaks to the existing offer as a victory and Brexiteers will deny that their messiah and idol may have feet of clay.

Many fair-minded people might then conclude that the sustained and bitter campaign against Theresa May was for no real purpose. However sensible compromise will always be better for farming and indeed for the rest of the UK economy than a 'no deal' Brexit and tariffs. The message from the farming lobby is clear on the threat that would pose. Anything that maintains a sound, commercial trading relationship with our nearest and biggest market would be a better outcome. The influence of the farming lobby at Westminster has got weaker and that will not change under a Johnson government.

If Brexit is to be a success, what is needed is the agricultural policy farmers were promised three years ago when they were being persuaded to back 'leave' in the referendum. The promise then was of a policy for UK conditions that would encourage productive, progressive agriculture. Instead what is on the cards is one focussed on environmental delivery, with potentially more rather than less red tape. Sadly, regardless of who ends up in charge of agriculture, that ship has sailed and change will not even be on the Johnson radar.

If and when Johnson becomes PM, life will not be boring for observers of the political scene. The risk he faces is that his arrogance and self-belief will encourage him to overreach himself. Emboldened by victory, he may opt for a general election to prove his claim that he can beat both Labour and the Brexit party. A general election would add further uncertainty for agriculture and it could also end the commitment that CAP support will be maintained until 2022 – the lifetime of this parliament.

Living in interesting times will be inevitable under a Johnson government – but interest wanes quickly when for farmers the political game is played with their livelihoods.