ONE OF the first lessons in writing is to avoid clichés.

The Scott poem, Marmion, with the famous line about weaving a tangled web when we practice to deceive is so hard to resist it can become a cliché. However sometimes a cliché is perfect, and that quote sums up the latest problem Boris Johnson has brought upon himself.

It was appropriate that it started in the Scottish courts and ended up in the highest court in the UK, but the message was the same from both. The Supreme Court in London stopped short of saying he lied, but this was nonetheless a damning indictment of his actions.

A week that started with allegations about financial irregularities and a pole dancer, when he was mayor of London, got worse by the day. His only crumb of comfort was to be told how great he was by Donald Trump, before he hastily had to get a flight back to the trouble brewing in the UK.

The court decisions can be looked at in two ways. For those backing leave in the Conservative party, it judges against the people and the 2016 vote. For others it is proof that even the biggest and most powerful in the land are subject to the law.

The result is that Johnson has now lost every vote since he became prime minister; he is powerless to call an election, thanks to the fixed term parliament act; he has turned a majority of one in the Commons into a deficit of 40 plus, thanks to taking the whip from 21 MPs who did to him what he did to Theresa May.

If she did not believe in karma before he took over she must believe in it now. She is now no longer the worst prime minister, after Lord North who in the 1700s lost the American colonies through his intransigence. She is also no longer the worst leader of the Conservative party, even if her failure to seal the deal with Brussels over three years led us to where we are today.

Despite his bluster Johnson is too easily bored and disinterested in detail to be a good negotiator, but he must know that if he swaps bluster and bluff for a proper game plan he can still win a general election. To do that he has to dump some of the advisers he has taken on board. This includes special advisers and the arch-Brexiteers of the Conservative party who seem to see this as another jolly jape, despite it being played out with the livelihoods of businesses and families.

He needs to recognise that he is no longer in a position to bully parliament and the EU heads of state. He needs to embrace boring, cold strategic thinking that will deliver a deal. This will be similar to the existing withdrawal deal, but Johnson will have to use his PR skills to convince his followers this is not the case.

This all leaves farmers more confused than ever. They know the CAP is not nirvana for their fellow farmers in the EU-27, not least because Germany is demanding a reduction in the budget to reflect its desire to see the overall EU budget reduced after the UK's departure. However while the CAP may not be perfect, they do have an assurance that there will be a support structure in place. They are also gaining from the EU now being the world's biggest trader in agrifood. Both give European farmers a measure of confidence that is lacking here.

What farmers want is reassurance that someone at Westminster is interested in their case.

The Defra minister has a crucial role in this equation, and to be fair to Michael Gove he was moving in the right direction. That has all now ground to a halt. The new minister, Theresa Villiers, seems to have been appointed solely for her pro-Brexit credentials. In one of her very few comments on agriculture she recently defended halal and kosher slaughter of livestock, despite opposition from just about everyone else in the industry.

She would achieve more by recognising that agriculture and food are one of the great indigenous industries of the UK, which with the proper support from government could deliver for the the economy and the countryside. Johnson needs to swap rhetoric for policy. Far down the cabinet pecking order, the Defra minister needs to swap platitudes for policy.