IT seems right now that those in the UK Government who are refusing to accept that Brexit has any part in the UK’s embarrassing, miserable and unacceptable fresh food shortages doth protest too much.

And, for anyone looking for a more objective take on the situation, there are plenty of experts setting out truths that are most inconvenient for the ruling Conservatives.

We must also surely attach weight to the pictures posted on social media of supermarket shelves elsewhere in Europe heaving with fresh fruit and vegetables. These pictures have contrasted most starkly with what shoppers in the UK are seeing when they walk into stores, and with rationing by some food retailers. Sometimes what we see with our own eyes is the most important evidence.

Clearly, there are several factors at play here. The Government is, of course, happy enough to highlight unusually cold weather in the likes of southern Spain and Morocco. However, it continues to refuse to acknowledge the elephant it put in the room – Brexit. This elephant has been stampeding over living standards in the UK on so many fronts, including food supply.

You would imagine the National Farmers’ Union for England and Wales would have a good handle on what is going on. Its members are, after all, surely a lot closer to the everyday realities of the situation than Cabinet ministers.

NFU deputy president Tom Bradshaw observed last week: “It’s really interesting that before Brexit we didn’t used to source anything, or very little, from Morocco but we’ve been forced to go further afield and now these climatic shocks becoming more prevalent have had a real impact on the food available on our shelves today.”

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Thérèse Coffey, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, has seemed alarmingly unperturbed by the whole sorry shambles.

As many shoppers in the UK struggled to find fresh produce, Ms Coffey said on Thursday last week: “It is important to make sure that we cherish our specialisms in this country. Many people would be eating turnips right now rather than thinking necessarily about lettuce, tomatoes and similar.”

If one were seeking an encapsulation of insular Brexit Britain, that remark would be a contender.

Ms Coffey did add: “However, I am conscious that consumers want a year-round choice, and that is what our supermarkets, food producers and growers around the world try to satisfy.”

Consumers do indeed want a year-round choice, and there seemed to be no issue with them having this before Brexit.

First we had “happier” British fish from arch-Brexiter Jacob Rees-Mogg. Now we have an entreatment by Ms Coffey to “cherish” the turnip. The scene in Blackadder where the Puritan relatives come to visit springs to mind, at least the tense, unamusing parts of it do.

Ms Coffey last week blamed “unusual weather incidents”, citing the effect on southern Spain and Morocco.

She declared: “Even if we cannot control the weather, it is important that we try and make sure…the supply continues to not be frustrated in quite the way it has been due to these unusual weather incidents.”

Still no mention of Brexit.

Former Sainsbury chief executive Justin King, who you would imagine knows a thing or two about the food supply chain, noted the effect of poor weather abroad in the context of the shortages and the impact of high energy costs in the UK on production from domestic greenhouses. However, he also made the very clear point that “it’s a sector that’s been hurt horribly by Brexit”.

Meanwhile, Guy Singh-Watson, founder of Devon-based organic vegetable box company Riverford, posted a video over the weekend showing “lots of veg and [tomatoes] in Tesco in Budapest”.

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He declared: “Here we are in Tesco’s, but this is Tesco’s in Budapest. As you can see, strangely, there seems to be no shortage of tomatoes at all. I’ve come here…to talk to the Hungarian Organic Farmers Association and it’s patently obvious that they have no problems importing tomatoes from southern Europe.

“We do in the UK, why is that? I can tell you as having a farm in France, the reason people don’t want to export to the UK is that we’re a customer of last resort because we’re such a deal with because the paperwork is so silly with Brexit.

“It’s expensive, time-consuming and it involves a loss of flexibility that most businesses, if they can avoid, will, so they do, so we don’t have any tomatoes but they do in Budapest.”

This seems like an astute observation from someone closer to the situation than the Tory Brexiters, who brought about the shambles but seem to be either unable to understand it or unwilling to acknowledge it.

Meanwhile, the head of a farming and food campaign group last week blamed Brexit squarely for the shortages of fruit and vegetables on UK supermarket shelves, in an interview on radio station LBC.

Liz Webster, from Save British Food, called for an urgent return of free trade with Europe to keep supermarket shelves in the UK stocked.

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Ms Webster, who has a farm in Wiltshire, told LBC’s Nick Ferrari: “I’ve been trying to tell people this is on the way for some time actually. It’s Brexit.

“Ultimately, the decisions that were made by this Government, on the Brexit they chose, and what they chose to do after that Brexit…We’re looking at a cascading collapse of British food because of Brexit decisions…

“They are basically getting rid of our food security in Britain to rely on the world supposedly to feed us.”

She added: “At the same time they’ve cut off our trade with Europe, less is coming in and less is going out, and then we’re relying on people outside of Europe, which are a long way away from us, to feed us.”

Observing that “tomato-growers in glasshouses in Britain have shut them down”, and noting that this was as a result of energy costs that are higher in the UK than in the rest of Europe, Ms Webster declared: “The only solution is to get back in the single market and the customs union as quickly as possible, because now we can’t feed you as much food, we need that quick supply to come in from Europe and that’s only going to happen if you free up our trade.”

This also seems like a very sound analysis from someone close to the situation.

And Ms Webster’s suggestion about rejoining the single market and customs union is certainly a lot more constructive than Ms Coffey’s idea of cherishing the British turnip.