THERE seems to have been an outbreak at Westminster of that rare commodity in politics – common sense.

The government looks set, for now, on rolling back some of its green plans to deliver a net zero carbon status by 2050. Real common sense would have been to have thought through the plan in the first place. This was always sound-bite policy making not backed by economics or science. Having started down the road changing direction will not be easy, not least for car makers gearing up for a 2030 end to petrol and diesel.

But a looming general election means all bets are off. The government knows that with its green policies, it has gotten ahead of what the average person – as opposed to comfortably off-armchair environmentalists – want. With UK inflation set to remain the worst of any developed country ministers know the green card is not going to deliver the votes they need to keep a general defeat at a level from which the party can rebuild.

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Some flagship policies will inevitably crash and burn. There will be criticism, but it is the right thing to do, to step back and think again about how to deliver green outcomes with less pain for those paying for them via taxes and energy bills. This is an opportunity to show some real joined-up, economics, and science-led thinking and to embrace the freedom Brexit has given the UK to do things differently from the EU.

Boris Johnson made much of this thinking, but in reality, he went on following the EU's green policies, not least in agriculture. His successors have done the same, but now the political reality of a potential big election defeat next year has landed. Richie Sunak sees an opportunity to put clear blue water between his party and Labour and indeed between London and Brussels. This is a huge gamble, but Sunak knows this is the time to gamble on populist policies, as Johnson did to such good effect with Brexit.

If there is to be a new plan for back-to-basics green policies, now might be the time for radical thinking on food and farming. This is an industry that could deliver on so many fronts. It can deliver green outcomes, not from being paid to do so, but as a by-product of producing quality food as close as possible to where it will be eaten. This is green by any standards and we can do this while maintaining the freedom to export to our biggest market in the EU because our standards remain beyond reproach.

It would also allow a high bar for imported food and let us use Brexit to deliver a real point of difference in agriculture. We might even be looked at with envy by farmers in the EU facing years of curbs on production to deliver the European green agenda.

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For this to happen there would have to be a sea change at Westminster in how agriculture is viewed. It is now largely irrelevant to political thinking and this is an area where the EU scores over the UK. It was the loss of political influence for farming that was the greatest casualty of Brexit since the power of the UK farming lobby came via its relationship with European farm unions in COPA.

An example emerged with the Europe Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen's State of the Union speech. COPA set out to persuade her to include farmers and their importance to the EU. This worked and what she delivered was a boost for farmers and another small brick in the drive to rebalance politics between food production and the green agenda.

The Commission president thanked farmers for meeting 'multiple challenges' and stressed the importance of food security 'in harmony' with nature. She praised farmers for delivering quality, safe food to European citizens day after day, describing healthy, safe food as a key policy driver.

READ MORE: Euro Notebook: Keeping Green Aspirations on Track

She deemed self-sufficiency and food security as absolute political priorities. As for the future, she said a policy review would be based on farming, food security, and protection of the environment all going hand in hand. Warm words perhaps without a real guarantee of delivery, but what would farmers give for a UK prime minister to say the same?

Perhaps that might come if there is a reconfiguring of how best to deliver net zero, given that the present plans now appear to be in complete disarray.