WITH MPS returning to Westminster for a few weeks before they break again for the party conference season, Brexit politics will take on a new edge.

Since he became prime minister, Boris Johnson has turned his fire power towards Brussels, but he will now find his real problems are at home. How he handles this will test his political abilities.

We are probably as close to a snap general election as we are to a successful Brexit. If this were to happen the promise to farmers that aid equivalent to CAP payments would continue for the lifetime of this parliament would end. Farmers would then be dependent on whatever is put in the party manifestos and that is worrying.

Agriculture seems to have lost its clout at Westminster. Instead the environment and chasing the green vote is the name of the game for the major parties. An assured food supply is taken for granted by politicians, who now deem bees and butterflies more important than national food security. This is an argument that plays well into the government's wish to trade on the basis of open markets. It knows it can deliver food security by importing food and as a bonus this could reduce prices.

Quality and provenance are not part of this argument. It is interesting that the government says policies will maintain animal welfare standards, but the issues go far beyond that vote catcher. The Johnson cabinet does not understand – or want to understand – that farming is a core industry and that food quality runs deeper than regulation. Price, quality, production methods and a thriving rural economy are all part of a complex equation that for years has delivered success. This was underpinned by how the CAP operated.

Now we are heading into a brave new world and those in government do not understand that equation. Making matters worse, they are not listening to the farming lobby trying to explain it. The flaw in their case is that they believe the be-all-and-end-all for farmers is being freed of the shackles of the CAP. In reality, farmers want a home-grown support mechanism that will work better and that is not in the offing at Westminster.

Back in Brussels we are in the final days of the present European Commission, which ends on October 31, when Brexit is also due to happen. Over the years there have been many farm commissioners. Some are so bland they sink without a trace, but others were radical and determined to leave their mark on European agriculture. Ray MacSharry, Franz Fischler and Marian Fischer Boel are on that list – and the present commissioner, Phil Hogan, will certainly make the cut. He is tough talking and controversial which is what it takes to be remembered. Back in 2016, before the referendum, he summed up the choice for UK farmers as the certainty of the CAP, with all its flaws, against a gamble on the generosity of the British Treasury. Time has confirmed the accuracy of that statement, as we head for Brexit with no plan for farming and no reassurance on funding.

As an Irish politician, Hogan understands the economic implications of Brexit for both the UK and Ireland. He believes the Irish backstop goes beyond trade and he pulls no punches when it comes to defending it. This is partly because he recognises Brexit is a potential disaster for the Irish economy. Despite that threat the Irish government believes its future lies entirely with the EU. If it comes down to choices between the damage of a no deal Brexit and a fudge to maintain trade with the UK, Dublin will stick with Brussels.

Hogan has been harshly critical of the UK approach and the government's handling of Brexit, using a recent speech in Ireland to mock Boris Johnson. Hogan believes a no deal Brexit would cause pain, but that this would be greatest for the UK. Referring to Johnson's frequent references to Churchill, Hogan said that given the approach of the UK cabinet, the best quote would be that 'never have so few sought to cause so much pain for so many'. A less than diplomatic comment perhaps, but if Hogan gets his way in the new Commission, as Ireland's nominee, he will be responsible for trade and for negotiating a trade deal with the UK. That is another potential post-Brexit nightmare for Johnson.