Like many well known sayings, who first questioned why the ‘devil should have all the good tunes’, is not clear.

It has been attributed to Charles Wesley, the founder of Methodism, his brother John and to William Booth, of the Salvation Army. All had a common cause and would agree that just because an idea is that of your sworn enemy, it does not necessarily make it bad.

The government’s hard line stance towards the EU to prove that Brexit was visionary is preventing it seeing any thinking in Brussels as valid. Trade issues and the specific problems flowing from the Northern Ireland protocol are rooted in the government’s refusal on grounds of principle to operate in parallel with EIU food standards.

This was its political choice, but it cannot use this to claim every idea emerging from Brussels is by default a bad idea.

Five years on from the decision to leave the EU, farmers are still largely in the dark about what the future holds. Support arrangements and the degree of devolution that will be allowed are still up in the air.

All that is clear is that the government in Westminster, through support measures and trade policies, has little interest in the future of farming or rural communities. The harsh reality is that rural communities lack the voting muscle needed to command more than rhetoric from politicians.

As a result, we are locked into trade policies that will undermine the industry in the long term and support policies more focussed on turning farmers into park keepers, rather than food producers.

It seems bizarre that farmers are still waiting for answers on support policies when the cumbersome mechanism of 27 EU member states, the European Commission with its green deal plans and the European parliament have managed to agree a reform strategy for unwieldy CAP.

Back in 2016, advocates of Brexit promised farmers it would be easy to create a bespoke agriculture policy to suit the UK. In 2021, we are still waiting for that to happen.

And it is not only farming communities that have been forgotten in the Westminster bubble. Rural communities across the UK are not part of any Westminster vision. Again, it seems, the bureaucratic EU devil is not lacking a repertoire of good tunes

Having got the CAP onto a stable keel, with its budget more intact than many thought likely, the European Commission has come up with an action plan for rural communities. This is no panacea to the many problems they face and change has been promised since rural development was ‘invented’ by the Irish farm commissioner, Ray MacSharry, in the 1990s.

That thinking never fully matured as a policy that delivered. This is particularly so in the UK, which failed to engage with the concept back then and so ended up with the worst budget of any EU member state.

Brexit is an opportunity to make amends for that poor thinking, but there is no evidence of that happening. What Brussels has delivered with its latest action plan may be just fine words and aspirations, but it displays a level of interest that’s lacking at Westminster.

The action plan acknowledged the demographic time-bomb of an ageing rural population and admitted that this will get worse before it improves. On the positive side, it said rural areas were a key part of plans to green the EU and says their growth and development is part of the transition to a digital era across Europe.

It sets key objectives, including better services, improved infrastructure including transport, social innovation, greening in farming and economic diversification. Plus, it stressed that while farming was important a successful future for these vast areas across the EU depends on developments beyond traditional agriculture, with a big focus on innovation.

Cynics will rightly see this as little different to the hopes and dreams thinking of the MacSharry era 30 years ago. It is certainly true that setting objectives has not delivered for rural areas.

The blurring of policy between economic development and agri-environment policies, funded through rural development, took the focus off the need for radical thinking. However, an action plan is at least a starting point for debate and that is something the EU now has.

This is not the case in the UK and unless Westminster fully releases funding and decision making control on rural development policy to Scotland, this will remain a good idea that continually fails to deliver its potential.