THERE IS food for thought in Robbie Burns' poem about the gift of seeing ourselves as others see us. As the process of exiting the EU moves from the uncertain to political farce, an inevitable question is how those in the rest of the EU see events in the UK.

We see everything now from a Brexit perspective. This has dominated the news for months and is the single subject of debate. This reflects a genuine wish to find some certainty in a debate where that does not exist. Instead of the focus improving as we approach March 2019, when we are due to leave the EU, it has become more blurred. We have become a single issue nation.

It is akin to the George Bernard Shaw quotation that the man with toothache sees all other people as those who do not have toothache. We are focussed on an event that the rest of the EU in particular is now bored with; it simply wants whatever is going to happen in the UK to happen, so that it can move on. Coincidentally there will be a clean break just after Brexit, when there will be a new European Commission and a new European parliament.

Based on reports that farmers favoured the 'leave' option, the assumption would have to be that farmers elsewhere in the EU, tied to the CAP, must be looking with envy towards their UK counterparts. Back in 2016, in the run up to the referendum, the 'leave' advocates, led by the former Defra minister, Owen Paterson, set out a beguiling case for farmers. It was built around escaping the red tape of the CAP for a more focussed, UK driven policy.

But there are no signs of that emerging. Instead, if the government and Brexit survive, we are on course for a policy greener than the greening in the CAP. It is true that farmers across the EU are fed up with red tape – but they are prepared to accept it for the income certainty the CAP provides and perhaps more importantly for the Fortress Europe policy that protects them from low cost, low quality food producing countries. On that basis they are not jealous of UK farmers escaping the CAP.

Talking to people from other member states that rely on supplying food to the UK market, there is not the sense of panic that might be expected. This is particularly so in Ireland, but also in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark and Poland, which are all big contributors to the 60% of the UK food market supplied by imports. They, of course, want to see a Brexit outcome that would leave them free to go on supplying a market they have been in for years. The UK market is profitable and successful, thanks to well established supermarket buying chains that are a model for other countries.

Suppliers know that whatever way the political cookie ends up crumbling, the UK will need food the next day, and supermarkets will want to stick with well-established suppliers. The comfort blanket of the Brexiteers that 'they need us more than we need them' is not actually true. The UK is a prosperous market, but it is only 60 million out of 500 million in the EU. The EU-27 will step in to protect those that rely on the UK.

The asset they want to protect is not the CAP as a policy, but the European farming model, based around family farms and a market protected from imports. There is no desire to move away from that, and that is the biggest threat to the UK accessing the single market after Brexit. Despite what was said in the Withdrawal Deal, now being hung out to dry at Westminster, there is no way the UK can have tariff-free trading in food while importing from third countries.

Farmers in the EU 27 would not accept the danger that Fortress Europe could be threatened by the UK importing to re-export while not having to meet the standards of the CAP. That is a non-starter, and the government must know it.

The overall feeling in Europe is of regret that the UK is leaving. No member state in the EU wanted that; they admire the UK's contribution to the EU and know now it was a mistake not to offer David Cameron realistic concessions before the referendum. However as Brexit is proving every day, hindsight is a wonderful thing.