The mantra ‘taking back control’ resonates with individuals and states – the idea is understandably appealing. However, the phrase is likewise ambiguous, with a much more complex reality demonstrated repeatedly during the Brexit process. This paper considers the practicalities of 'reclaiming control' post-Brexit, through examining the development of domestic agricultural law and policy - in particular the UK Agriculture Act – and its interactions with related areas of food, trade, and the environment. It questions who has taken back control, how and to what end.
The paper identifies legal, political, and practical parameters that are continuously evolving post-Brexit, providing challenges and opportunities for those shaping agricultural policy. These parameters affect what is possible, desirable, and required. The policies demonstrate intermittent, somewhat haphazard engagement with these parameters in their formulation and content. Further, the resulting agricultural policies demonstrate limited policy ambition that insufficiently addresses core substantive concerns and fails to future-proof the regime.