The old adage has it that when in doubt, you should ponder and when in trouble, delegate.

That may be sound advice, but as the Partygate fallout continues to haunt Boris Johnson, he has adopted a new strategy. His latest diversionary tactic is to celebrate The Queen's Jubilee by donning rose-tinted spectacles to stage a come back for imperial measures.

The queen may be 96, but it is easy to imagine even her wondering at the wisdom of a Prime Minister launching this misguided plan in her name.

Generations of school children will not have a clue what this is about. Anyone measuring, mixing, or administering drugs that need to be diluted or calculated based on bodyweight will not thank Johnson for this idea. It is another misguided event to hide from reality by trying to reawaken the Brexit mood that brought him to power.

It is also a tactic doomed to fail any test of common sense. Both systems have co-existed for years and the imperial versus metric row was always a manufactured and phony war with Brussels. We manage to use metric every day to measure and mix, while driving in miles per hour.

This would be funny, if it was not a sign of a more serious political problem over Brexit. With the UK economy heading into recession and inflation at levels not seen for decades the government needs to find ways to manufacture rows to show it is striking a path away from Brussels.

The latest example relates to science and it could have significant implications for agricultural research in Scotland and other parts of the UK. Under the trade and cooperation deal agreed with the EU for Brexit, arrangements were made for UK researchers to continue being involved in EU-wide research programmes.

This comes under a science funding programme, known as Horizon. It is important in agriculture because it allows for co-operation, which accelerates the volume of research and expands the farming conditions in which it takes place.

There have been many successful examples and it has a proven track record for accelerating progress and bringing more minds and different approaches to bear on problems. In the EU British science is well respected, which is why in the past it made such a big contribution through advisers to agencies like the European Food Safety Authority.

But now, in the manufactured row with Brussels over the Northern Ireland protocol, the government signed knowing it would create a border in the Irish Sea, the future of UK involvement in Horizon is in doubt. London is seeking to blame Brussels, ignoring the reality that it has more to gain from involvement in the programme than the EU has to lose from the UK not being involved.

It is suggesting it will seek global partners instead, but in agriculture that is a far from practical concept. Realistically, global partners means international commercial companies, rightly pursuing their own agenda rather than science for the wider good, or American research institutions.

This ignores some realities. One is that the UK is a long way off any trade deal with Washington that would include collaboration in science.

In addition the US and EU are the big players and Washington is much more interested in a relationship with Brussels than London. In agriculture they are already working on joint programmes to use feed ingredients to reduce methane from livestock and this is a model both want to expand.

Put simply, this means the big players are already at the party, making it difficult for the UK to elbow in if it sees the US as an alternative to the Horizon programme.

A further complication in dealing with the US in agricultural science is that in most areas they are on a completely different track to the UK's green approach. Much American research is rooted in using GM science and this is a big complication if the UK wants to to adopt shared research programmes.

By contrast working with the EU means working off the same agenda so far as GM is concerned. With its commitment to develop gene editing, the UK might have new science to bring to the Horizon party.

Research is expensive and it demands scale. The UK lacks scale and not co-operating with Europe is as logical as a return to an era of imperial measurements – but then logic and politics are not natural bedfellows.