I WOULD love to write about 'PartyGate', but sadly it lacks agricultural content. The party that never was however confirms the quotation in George Orwell's Animal Farm that some animals deem themselves more equal than others.

Failure to understand that flaw is a classic error by politicians. The latest PartyGate leaked video would have never emerged had Johnson's then very expensive PR adviser, Allegra Stratton, heeded the advice people receive at their first course in broadcast journalism. When a microphone or a camera is in front of you, even if you think they are turned off, you should never say anything you would not want broadcast.

The mood music in the Conservative party towards Johnson is changing. He was seen, when elected, as having a Midas touch – an ability to convert every policy into electoral gold. He is now having the opposite effect, with a catalogue of errors turning ideas to ash.

The so-called grey men in suits of the 1922 committee, who tell Tory leaders it is time to go, will not be donning those suits yet. But they will be making clear that if things do not improve those suits will be coming out in the New Year for a visit to Downing Street. One thing Johnson needs to be able to show is that he is in tune with the real grass-roots of the party and not just those who climbed on board because of Brexit.

Rural areas of England were once peopled by dependable stalwarts of the Tory party, but they are witnessing a prime minister out of tune with their lives and businesses. They may have no other political home, but their support cannot be taken for granted.

The leaders of the UK farm unions were recently in Downing Street to 'celebrate' British food, but it will take a lot more than wine and nibbles to convince farmers the government has their interests at heart. They are seeing a government presiding over farming and food policies that at the same time pile ever more green regulations on farmers and create labour shortages on farms and in processing – while at the same time pursuing a trade policy that will open the doors to poorly regulated cheap imports.

Johnson supporters claim he lived up to his 'get Brexit done' commitment'. That has carried him for a long time, but lack of attention to the detail, which is a hallmark of his approach, is beginning to show. The oven-ready trade deal with the EU is not delivering, because sovereignty, as an elusive concept, trumped a hard-nosed business approach.

Politics seemed to win the day then, but are now losing the peace. This is clear in the latest figures from the European Commission on trade in agri-food in the first eight months of this year – the crucial months after Brexit was fully implemented and trade became based on the deal agreed between Brussels and the then negotiator, now unelected Brexit minister, Lord Frost.

Those eight months saw the boom times continuing for the EU globally. It is now by far the world's biggest agri-food trader. Exports rose by 5% on 2020 and imports by 2.3%. This saw the balance of trade gap grow in the EU's favour by a massive 17%. Top performing markets were the United States and China, both also key targets for the UK.

There is one big devil in the statistical detail for the UK government and that relates to post-Brexit trade. We have all heard reports of how difficult it is to get paperwork right for exporting to the EU, despite the trade deal. We have also heard reports that the government, because of staff shortages, cannot implement controls on imports.

The EU says exports to the UK have recovered to pre-Brexit levels. By contrast imports from the UK plummeted more than those from any other country. The drop was 24%. This confirms the nightmare reports of red tape around exports and possibly also that, when given a choice, the EU's 500 million consumers lack the enthusiasm they once had for British food and drink.

These are complex issues, exactly the sort Johnson does not like. But with problems piling up on every front even he will find it hard to prove that the trade aspects of his Brexit policy are not another piece of gold that turned to ash.