It’s now 15 weeks since Britain voted to leave the European Union. But we aren’t out yet.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the process will take until 2019 – two years from next year, when she promises to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

This is the clause which allows a member state to quit the union if it wants to. However no nation has ever done it before, and the process doesn’t end there.

There are laws to repeal, treaties to cancel, new ones to be negotiated and arrangements over trade, travel, policing and a host of other topics to be agreed. Some fear it is bound to take longer than two years.

And others, including Cumbria’s farmers, are worried about what they stand to lose.

Last year Britain’s farmers received almost £2.4 billion in direct payments from the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy – 55 per cent of UK total farming income.

And there is uncertainty about what – if anything – will come after our departure.

Will the Government replace EU grants with British grants, and will they be in place in time for our exit?

That uncertainty troubles Robert Craig, a dairy farmer from Ainstable. “It’s too soon,” he says.

“The Government has said it would guarantee continued funding until 2020. We’ve no idea after that.

“But it would be highly unlikely that we would be funded similarly.”

European grants are particularly important to most of Cumbria’s upland farmers, he adds. “Virtually 100 per cent of upland farms are reliant on EU subsidies.”

But dairy farmers like him have also benefited – as they did when the milk price fell sharply.“The EU bought up powdered milk at 14p a litre, put it in storage and released it when the market was stronger.

“That put a floor in the market. I could never see a British government doing that.

“We won’t know the value of a mechanism like that until we haven’t got it.”

Susan Aglionby Susan Aglionby, an organic farmer from Houghton, agrees that a 2019 exit is much too soon – and argues it shouldn’t be happening at all. “I think the whole thing is simply terrible,” she complains. “We have no idea what on earth is going to happen.”

Like many organic farmers, Mrs Aglionby receives Higher Level Stewardship payments for her work, and much of that money comes from the European Union. “We don’t know what’s going to replace that yet. It makes financial planning impossible.

“Farming is a way of life and farmers are very resilient. But I think they are going to have to work extremely hard.”

And Mrs Aglionby points out that the impact of an early exit could be felt by others in the countryside, not just farmers.

“All the conservation bodies that have land don’t know what they are going to do without the grants they get. I’m not convinced the present Government is interested in the environment and the work farmers do to protect the countryside.”

So she argues they need to present a united front. “There’s no point in upland farmers saying one thing, dairy farmers saying something else and the RSPB saying something different.

“We are not going to get anywhere unless we are telling the Government the same thing: If you care about food security and you care about biodiversity, you are going to have to support agriculture.”

Chris Ward Chris Ward is a business consultant and chairman of the Institute of Directors in Cumbria. He argues that if we are going to leave then we ought to do so sooner rather than later.

“If we take the view that we need to get everything absolutely perfect then we’ll never leave,” he points out. “We’ll be in limbo for a very long time.”

And that uncertainty will be very harmful for business. “Businesses can’t move forward with this cloud of uncertainty hanging over us. If you look at the currency market, every time a major politician speaks it bounces up and down. That’s really bad for businesses.

“If you have more and more of this uncertainty, they are not going to invest – businesses are risk-averse. They will batten down the hatches.”

British companies need to go on trading with EU member countries so Mr Ward wants to see the three years until our departure spent trying to arrange that with as few tariffs and barriers as possible.

But he predicts: “None of it’s going to be easy to do. We’ll have 27 member states who will have to ratify those agreements, and each of them will have their own interests at heart.”

The impact of Brexit on jobs has been debated at length, but there are 73 people who will be losing theirs as a direct result. They are Britain’s 73 Members of the European Parliament.

Julie Ward Eight of them represent the north west of England and Labour MEP Julie Ward is one of them. Like Mr Ward she says the uncertainty is bad for businesses, and adds: “It’s bad for young people, it’s bad for foreign students here, every level of society.”

But she doubts a swift departure, to remove that uncertainty, is going to be possible. It’s too complicated.

“The Government just doesn’t have the expertise it requires to unpick all the legislation and all the technical agreements,” she says. “It has set up a Department for Exit but it doesn’t have the right number of people. They are having to employ extra lawyers at vast expense. It’s an expensive mess.”

She believes whatever follows will be worse than what we’ve had up to now. “We had a pretty good deal already. We had certain vetoes, we didn’t have the euro, we had a rebate.

“We had control of our borders. I have to go through the border controls twice a week, and they’re pretty good. London will never give Cumbria what Brussels has given it.”

So will she and her Euro MP colleagues be out of a job in 2019?

“At the moment we are still doing our jobs, and we’ll be scrutinising everything the Tories are doing at every step of the negotiations.

“But who knows? That’s the problem. This is unprecedented so nobody knows.”