This week David discusses the Brexit negotiations

Parliament has reconvened for a couple of weeks before the Party Conferences.

As with many of the weeks that have so far occupied us much of the government’s business is something and nothing. However there will be a two-day debate on Brexit which will introduce the Bill that starts the exit process.

The 66 pages are contextualised not only by what it contains but what is missing. It is particularly weak in regard to mentions of environmental protection, animal welfare and labour rights, and at the very least that must be put right.

The problem is that everything is somewhat rushed and not thought through, and in the background of all of this are the negotiations with the EU.

To say that things are not going well is an understatement. Neither the staged meetings with the EU negotiator Mr Barnier nor Liam Fox’s globetrotting ventures to try to find any country that might be interested in a trade deal have yielded very little other than a few forgettable encounters, plenty of cups of tea and plenty of air miles.

The difficulty that Dr Fox in particular faces is that trade deals take decades not months to compile. The ill-fated Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US took years to go no where, for instance.

My concern has always been that to cover the UK’s embarrassment at a lack of progress it will rush into a deal with Trump’s America.

The row over chlorinated chicken was but a foretaste of what to expect if that becomes even a possibility.

So the debate next Thursday and the following Monday can be but part of the equation of how the UK will determine her own future.

My own interest in the farming and rural issues have gathered an additional piquancy following a visit to Arla, the farmer owned cooperative which is a Danish, Swedish, Dutch and British combine. They made it quite clear to me that the biggest issue now is uncertainty – this is forestalling investment and making decision-making very difficult.

Pleasingly Arla is committed to the UK evidenced by its new £300m super dairy at Aylesbury.

However there will be many other companies that will be facing similar dilemmas until there is clarity.