UK government proposals to bring back imperial measurements slammed as ‘gesture politics at its worst’

By James Moules

THE UK government has announced plans to allow shops to sell goods solely in imperial units – such as pounds and ounces – following the nation’s departure from the European Union.

In 1995, the UK took a step towards the metric system by mandating its use in a variety of instances including for packaged goods and spirits sold in pubs.

This was followed by a similar rule for loose goods sold by weight in 2000, in which shopkeepers can still display the imperial measurements, but must show the metric more prominently.

Adoption of metric measurements for a number of purposes was one of the requirements for the UK’s accession to the European Economic Community in the 1970s, although the nation maintained imperial in uses such as road signs and the sale of milk and beer.

In the wake of Brexit, the UK government has now declared its intention to allow shops to solely display imperial measurements if they so choose.

They have also announced plans to reintroduce the old Crown Stamp on pint glasses, replacing the current CE stamp.

But the move has been met with backlash by some observers, criticising it as a frivolous move and fanning the flames of the ‘culture wars’.

Andrew Smith, chair of pro-European Rejoin EU Party, told Redaction Report: “This is gesture politics at its worst, adding to the culture wars and setting young against old.  

“Fortunately it won’t have any significant uptake in the real world as UK imperial measures aren’t even consistent with those used in the US.”

Richard Hewison, leader of Rejoin EU Party added: “The removal of decimalised measures on the weekly shopping trip is a regressive move which will result in those less mathematically gifted being easier prey in a post Brexit rip-off Britain. What next? Back to 240p in the pound?”

The Rejoin EU Party is a single issue party that seeks to reverse Brexit and return the UK to the European Union.

It unsuccessfully contested the London mayoral election, Chesham and Amersham by-election and Batley and Spen by-election this year.

But anti-Brexit campaigners were not the only ones to lambast the announcement.

The Labour Party’s deputy leader Angela Rayner took to Twitter to say: “My constituents are bothering about losing 20 quid a week from their Universal Credit not twenty ounces or twenty pounds.

“How out of touch can you be to care more about the measurements in shops than whether working people can afford their weekly shop and put food on the table[?]”

The plans about imperial measurements and Crown Stamps was part of a broader announcement on September 16, 2021 on how the government intends to “capitalise on the freedoms from Brexit.”

Introducing the plans, Minister of State for the Cabinet Office Lord Frost said: “We now have the opportunity to do things differently and ensure that Brexit freedoms are used to help businesses and citizens get on and succeed.

“Today’s announcement is just the beginning. The Government will go further and faster to create a competitive, high-standards regulatory environment which supports innovation and growth across the UK as we build back better from the pandemic.”

Featured Image: Pixabay

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