FARMERS are too wise and cynical to be taken in by assurances from politicians.

Their scepticism will have hit a new low this week when Michael Gove, in charge of no deal Brexit planning, changed his message from 'don't panic' to claiming that businesses can prepare for the future with 'certainty and confidence'. For farming that certainty does not exist and bungs from Boris's money tree in London will not alter that reality.

Only Boris Johnson seems to know the game he is playing. That took another turn this week, when he claimed Angela Merkel had rejected the UK offer. This led to strains between London and Berlin, given that the language used by Downing Street neither reflected her approach or views. In fact she has been quoted saying that she will negotiate to the last minute to avoid a no deal departure by the UK.

Many observers now believe Johnson is trying to orchestrate a no deal outcome, believing this would be to his electoral advantage. Some have even suggested he wants to make a no deal outcome the official government stance. If he is not prepared to negotiate on the offer to Brussels it will fail. The European Commission has outlined the areas that need to change, but there is now a deep lack of trust of the UK. EU leaders believe the UK is negotiating in bad faith and they do not trust Johnson's claims that a hard border in Ireland can be avoided.

It is worrying for farming families across the UK that a no deal crashing out of the EU is for the first time a realistic possibility. If wise counsel had prevailed in Downing Street this would not have happened, but Johnson is easily manipulated. He is being persuaded by his hard line advisers to go for broke, by stretching to breaking point the patience of the other 27 EU member states.

He knows the potential consequences for the UK economy, but still believes his political gamble can come off. That gamble is not built on any belief that a hard Brexit will improve the economy. It is solely about Johnson's own political ambitions, which he believes are more important than collateral damage from his do or die strategy.

Listening to reckless advisers is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness, and of someone so fixated on a single issue that he cannot see the risks or accept he may be wrong. His answer is to throw money at the problem, in the belief that this can counter economic reality. However if the consequences of a no deal Brexit are a slow down of the UK economy, the tax take will not be sufficient to keep his money tree going.

All along the UK farm lobby organisations have been as one on this. They use the term 'catastrophic' to describe the implications for agriculture of a no deal departure. There are some suggestions that trading on World trade Organisation (WTO) terms would benefit farming. This reflects a belief that high tariff barriers would increase the price of food imports and so allow UK prices to rise. That might be what economic theory around supply and demand suggests, but the government would never allow that to happen. It would not allow Brexit to be measured by consumers as something that increases the price of food and reduces the range available. To avoid that it will conclude deals with countries outside the EU on the basis of zero or reduced WTO tariffs for food.

The problem then is that while they are well positioned to export into the UK, this can never be a two way trade. As a result far from increasing prices, departing from the high return EU-27 market could have the opposite effect. Add to this more rather than fewer regulations under a green UK farm support plan and it is hard to see any upside for agriculture in a no deal departure.

Perhaps Johnson and his myopic advisers are playing a very clever game of bluff. The time to see whether that is the case is getting shorter by the day, but it is hard not to see him as someone playing a bold game of poker with no winning cards in his hand. We need to hope that is not the case, because if it is, a lot of farm families will lose their businesses over his game of bluff with the EU-27.