Westminster is back in action this week as MPs returned after the conference recess.
The bubble has been reacting to the worrying news that stocks of marmite are running low at Tesco, after they refused Unilever’s demands to raise prices in the aftermath of the Brexit vote and fall in the pound. Perhaps what’s more worrying is the shortage of PG Tips but that is beside the point. Who is going to pick up the bill for the increase in prices that the weak pound implies?
Marmite is perhaps a cliché but useful metaphor for the period of political division we are currently in, the extent to which has not been seen in decades. As a nation we have been divided over Brexit, Corbyn, class, and immigration.
On this last point in particular, the government is learning it needs to be more considered in its language around Brexit. The beginning of the week saw the Government row back on the plans announced by Amber Rudd for companies to publish the number of foreign nationals they employ. This heavy handed approach was widely criticised as being anti-open market and only fuelling further division and a sense of hostility.
Despite this, the Prime Minister has maintained unity in her party – for now. This week was the first time we have seen real scrutiny of the Government’s plans for Brexit, with a number of Conservative MPs raising their concerns during the debate on parliamentary scrutiny of the UK leaving the EU. We saw the heavyweights of the Cameron era speak in the debate, with the likes of Nick Boles, Michael Gove, and Nicky Morgan addressing the House calling for greater scrutiny.
If Theresa May is still in her honeymoon period, then Labour is most certainly picking up the tatters of a divorce. Corbyn sought unity this week in his reshuffle. However, his sacking of Chief Whip Rosie Winterton saw outrage from ‘rebel’ Labour MPs. Particular commiserations should go to Paul Flynn who, after a brief moment in the spotlight with two shadow ministerial posts, returned to the backbenches at the age of 81. Clive Lewis was also moved to Shadow Business Secretary to get round that tricky trident issue.
The most interesting feature of the reshuffle was Sir Keir Starmer’s appointment as Shadow Brexit Secretary. He will be the one to watch as Labour look to hold the Government to account over the process, and will be very well placed to succeed Corbyn when Labour most likely lose the next election.
On a lighter note, Strictly Come Dancing fans will be delighted to hear that this weekend Ed Balls will be dancing a paso doble to Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out For A Hero”. A sentiment no doubt shared by former colleagues in the Labour Party. For those who missed it, last weekend’s triumph can be viewed here. #VoteEd