Amid a pandemic, a climate emergency, and food shortages, it’s reassuring to know that the government has its priorities straight by dealing with the real issues of our time.
Obviously, we’re referring to the government’s bid to reintroduce imperial measurements, which have been gradually excluded from society as those pesky metric measurements have taken over.
Ministers yesterday announced plans to allow imperial measurements to make a comeback, much to the chagrin of social media. Why? They can now, because the UK has withdrawn from the EU.
Shopkeepers were required to use metric units to list the price of their goods, in order to uniformise measurement across Europe.
But, under plans to review the EU laws, announced by Brexit minister Lord Frost, market stalls, shops and supermarkets could once again legally sell their goods using only Britain’s traditional weighing system. This means that pounds and ounces may be back on shop shelves.
Unsurprisingly, the news has proved divisive, with many ridiculing the government’s keenness to make future plans for something which is seen as fairly historic for many.
Among the critics was Labour MP Jess Phillips, who tweeted: “Literally no one has ever raised this with me as an MP. EVER! They do however tell me that they cannot afford their heating, they say they can’t get their disabled kids a school place, they tell me they called the police and no one came. But sure a quarter of sweets will solve it.”
Here’s a flavour of some of the other critical and withering reactions:
Of course, there were some who welcomed the move, with The Telegraph heralding the move a “Brexit triumph”:
And the so-called “metric martyrs” will no doubt welcome the plans. One of the “metric martyrs” was Steven Thoburn, who found himself in hot water and he was caught selling bananas worth 34p using imperial measurements in 2001. Thoburn was convicted and arrested under the Weights and Measures Act.
Boris Johnson had promised to bring back imperial units to shops as part of his pitch to voters in the 2019 general election, At the time, he said: “We will bring back that ancient liberty. People understand what a pound of apples is. There will be an era of generosity and tolerance towards traditional measurements.”
Ministers have also set out plans for the return of the crown stamp on pint glasses, with other measures include introducing digital driving licences, test certificates and MOT processes.
The UK has had a complicated relationship with its unit identity for a long time and has never renounced the imperial system. For example, it’s still used for describing heights (feet and inches) and weight (stones and pounds), as well as speed limits (miles per hour). Also, shopkeepers have never actually been banned from using the imperial system – it’s just that the law has meant they also have to provide the metric equivalent alongside it.
However, it is still to be determined if such plans would have much impact on everyday life.
Either way, the plans are certainly giving people plenty of “mileage” to once again poke fun at the government.
Additional reporting by PA