IT IS, believe it or not, 41 years since 'Yes Minister' was first broadcast. It remains one of the greatest BBC programmes, with the hapless Jim Hacker battling the bureaucracy of government and civil service mandarins.

A classic episode was the 'Eurosausage', in which Hacker battled to great acclaim against a non-existent European threat to the British banger.

Spin forward a few decades and fiction has become fact over claims the EU is attempting to ban sausage sales into Northern Ireland. This is linked to the protocol which keeps Ulster in the EU single market and created a new and unique border down the Irish Sea.

This was inevitable from when this deal was done, but Boris Johnson buried his head in the sand over this issue, fearing the reality would blow his Brexit plans off course. The UK minister responsible for EU relations, Lord Frost, has accused Brussels of being 'purist' over checks on goods going from Great Britain into Northern Ireland. That may be so, but purism is not unexpected when one side signs a binding international treaty and then tries to unilaterally alter the deal it signed.

There are no easy solutions to this problem. The Johnson claim that he would never allow a border in the Irish Sea was always a falsehood, based on what he signed. But given that he no longer needs votes from Northern Ireland MPs it is doubtful he would risk the wider trade deal with the EU over this issue.

Sausages have grabbed the headlines, just as they did for Jim Hacker in the 1980s, but from seed potatoes through livestock to farm machinery the problems the protocol have brought to agriculture have created an unworkable situation.

The way around it is easy and always has been. The UK could agree to meet, or in reality continue to meet, EU standards in food and farming. That would take away the need for customs checks. Johnson and Frost, who are accusing the EU of being purist, deem that an approach that would undermine the purity of their Brexit. In a clash based on 'purity' of political ideals it is hard to see winners. But once again farmers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, with traditional trading links going back centuries, are caught up in political bickering between London and Brussels.

Given that the government would deem adherence with EU food standards unacceptable to the Brexit it wants, it is ironic that this week it confirmed it would impose the same legislation as the EU on domestic light bulbs. Back in 2016 it was implied by those supporting Brexit, including Johnson, that leaving the EU would be about an escape from its draconian green legislation. People, naively, thought then this might be a way back to tungsten light bulbs, but now that the supplies we all amassed before they were banned are spent that has proved another falsehood.

If this is acceptable and does not undermine the purity of Brexit, it would be interesting to hear cabinet minsters explaining why getting around the protocol by adhering to some of the highest, globally recognised, food standards would be such a mistake. As the former EU farm commissioner, Phil Hogan, put it during his short spell as trade commissioner, UK citizens did not vote for Brexit to embrace lower standards for the food on their supermarket shelves.

Post-Brexit political grandstanding by the government will go into top gear at the G7 summit in Cornwall. This is Boris Johnson's big chance to show the world the UK can be a serious player on the international stage, even with a population far before that of the major trading blocs. All stops will be pulled out to set out the government's commitment to free trade, regardless of the consequences for agriculture.

For Johnson a big trade deal would be the Cornish cream on his cake. He will go all out to show this is possible with the southern hemisphere countries and the United States. This is about wanting to prove that Brexit can be a successful economic policy as well as the manifestation of a political ideal.

That may be possible, provided it does not come as an alternative to a sound trading relationship with the EU as our nearest, biggest and most closely aligned trading partner. For Johnson, farmers will be collateral damage. In his personal and political life he has always adhered to the principle that distant fields are greener.