The EU, for years, has burnished its green credentials while relying on Russian gas.

The UK is less reliant on Russia, but depends on Norway for gas and on France for electricity from nuclear plants. It too flies the green flag, while ignoring its lack of energy security.

Those trains have now hit the buffers, thanks to the brakes being put on Russian supplies. The EU has announced a 15% rationing of gas until at least March. With the principle established it will be no surprise if this 15% 'save gas for a safe winter' scheme is extended. While the UK is less exposed, it depends on Norway, which as a member of the European Economic Area – which the UK rejected post-Brexit – may have to show preference there if Europe is under pressure.

Depending on France for electricity could also be risky, when demand in Europe increases because of gas restrictions French supplies could go there instead. This is why food and energy security are now at the top of the European political agenda. The prospect of energy rationing has turned an energy cost drama into a real crisis. Reality has come to bear and the effects will not be confined to Europe.

Already the farming lobby is warning of the consequences for food security and calling for agriculture to be given priority for gas after hospitals, schools and domestic consumers. For some member state governments this will mean tough choices between manufacturing and food security. The fertiliser industry in Europe has also warned of the impact of gas restrictions. It says that without special treatment, supplies of fertiliser could be under pressure again next Spring, with an inevitable impact on prices.

This is an issue that should be high on the agenda in the battle to convince the 160,000 Conservative members who should be prime minister. But that debate now has the maturity of a playground brawl where the real issues are forgotten.

The pursuit by Europe and the UK of a green net zero agenda appeared to work when there was the backstop of imported gas from a country not known for its green credentials. With Russia out of the equation, that green strategy now looks both risky and costly. In the UK it will be part of the reason energy bills will hit painful new records this winter. Every business is already struggling with energy costs and that is going to get worse.

The extreme weather of the summer boosted the case for tackling climate change, but politics come down to tough short term choices. We need to get through the present energy, food and inflation crisis using whatever means are available. That probably means a new government easing back on the green pedal that Boris Johnson chose to put flat to the floor. That demands courage and a willingness to face criticism from those once dubbed the 'chattering classes'. But it would confirm whether it is possible to have a prime minister capable of truly radical thinking and a willingness to be different to the EU.

This green versus food security debate was evident at the last meeting of EU farm ministers. Items on the agenda included the plan to impose a minimum 50% reduction in the use of chemical pesticides. This is part of what the EU is calling a nature restoration programme that will include farm land and forestry. It is a show-piece commitment and one the green lobby have seen as a victory and as a weapon to achieve more.

The commissioner responsible for food safety recently claimed 'time was up' for pesticides, but farm ministers disagreed. They said that given the importance of food security this policy should not be pursued until it could be demonstrated that practical, cost effective alternatives are available. They also added that the policy must not threaten the competitiveness of European agriculture to make it more reliant on food imports. This did not sink the policy but it was a massive shot across the bows of a grandiose scheme.

This confirms that the green leviathan can be turned for practical, sensible political reasons. It would be great to hear a similar reordering of priorities from either Rishi Sunak or Liz Truss. If instead they seek to have the UK greener than the EU it will be at a heavy cost for the UK economy and inflation-hit consumers.