Empty supermarket shelves, pound/euro parity and Government concessions on the Parliamentary process. This was the week that the sheer daunting scale and consequences of Brexit finally hit home.
What the public will notice most of course is the empty shelves in Tesco, as a dispute with Unilever over price rises to reflect the collapse in sterling left the supermarket giant briefly unable to sell dozens of household favourites ranging from Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream to Marmite. The next shock for people will come in the next couple of weeks as hundreds of thousands take half-term breaks for some late sun in the Mediterranean. Those families will find a shock in their hotel, restaurant and bar bills as that €100 restaurant bill now comes out of their bank account as £100, rather than the £70-80 they’re used to.
Meanwhile in Parliament we saw the first stirrings of something fundamental to our constitution but strangely absent for the last 18 months – an effective opposition. The new Shadow Brexit Secretary, Keir Starmer, defied Iain Duncan-Smith’s sneers (he called him a ‘second rate lawyer’) and put in the strongest front-bench peformance we’ve seen from a Shadow Minister since before the last election. Starmer led a cross-party coalition of MP’s demanding a stronger role for Parliament in the Brexit process, and demonstrated that whilst Remainers make up only 48% of the British public, they have a clear majority in the House of Commons – a problem that might yet make Theresa May reconsider on her opposition to an early election.
Remainers should not get too pleased with themselves, mind. A re-run of the referendum today would probably result in a bigger victory for Leave than they got in June. But the path towards Brexit is looking ever more complex. It might be easy to say that Brexit means Brexit. But to deliver it? Another challenge entirely.