Brexit Freedom Overhaul Could See The Return Of Pounds, Inches And Pints In The UK

Brexit Freedom Overhaul Could See The Return Of Pounds, Inches And Pints In The UK

Brexit Freedom Overhaul Could See The Return Of Pounds, Inches And Pints In The UK. image: Shutterstock

Brexit Freedom Overhaul Could See The Return Of Pounds, Inches And Pints In The UK.

Imperial measures like pounds, inches and pints are poised for a comeback as the Government has confirmed it will consider using post-Brexit freedoms to allow greater use of the traditional measurements.

Currently, the only products that can be sold in imperial units are draught beer or cider by the pint and milk sold in “returnable containers” by the pint- precious metals like gold are being still sold by the troy ounce.

However, when pushed by Shipley MP Philip Davies to allow goods to be sold in imperial measurements only, business minister Paul Scully said: “Now we have left the EU we will consider whether further limited exemptions can be applied for other traditional uses.”

Brexit Freedom

Spokesman for the British Weights & Measures Association, Warwick Cairns, said people should be free to use whatever system of measurement they wanted.

He said: “If you go to the supermarket and you want a pound of bananas or a pound of apples or whatever you should be free to ask for it and to receive it.” He added that modern scales which can switch between imperial and metric measurements are now “completely commonplace”. Cairns also said that He looks forward to a renaissance of champagne being sold in pint bottles once again.

Wartime PM, Winston Churchill, once described an imperial pint of champagne as “an ideal size for a man like me”. He said a half bottle was “insufficient to tease my brain” but described a pint of champagne as “enough for two at lunch and one at dinner”.

For campaigners such as Mr Cairns, imperial measures are a direct link with England’s ancient history. He said: “It’s, I think, a living connection with our past… A lot of these measures come from the Romans who in turn took them from other cultures before them.”

Business minister Mr Scully said: “The Government recognises that some people have a preference to use imperial units in their day to day lives.

“At the same time, it recognises that many others are not familiar with imperial units and that the use of metric is a necessity for British businesses to compete in markets around the world.”

UKMA believes that this confused muddle of two incompatible systems is an unacceptable situation that cannot be allowed to continue indefinitely. Unfortunately, the UK government (like its predecessors) appears unwilling to admit or address the problem and has no current plans to do anything to resolve the situation.

Brexit Freedom Overhaul– The UKMA believes that the only solution is to standardise on a single system – as soon as practicable.

The current British mess – of being half metric, half imperial – causes a number of serious problems- below, courtesy of the UKMA is a list of some complaints the organisation has received over the years.

  • Consumers have difficulty in comparing prices (and hence value for money) when rival traders quote prices in different measures – for example if one trader’s prices are in £/kg and the neighbouring trader quotes in £/lb. Dual pricing (e.g. per kg and per lb) increases costs for manufacturers and causes unnecessary work for retailers – especially small shopkeepers and market traders who may have to change prices frequently by hand. These costs are ultimately borne by the consumer. Similarly, the marking of package sizes in both metric and imperial has a cost implication.
  • Misunderstandings, mistakes and disputes can occur when parties to a transaction use different units of measurement. (The 1999 failure of the Mars Climate Orbiter space probe at a cost of $125 million is the best known and most spectacular example.)
  • Much teaching of metric to schoolchildren is wasted since they have little opportunity to practise their skills outside school. When children leave school, they have to adapt to the imperial system, which they have not been formally taught. Many soon forget what they learnt at school yet have an imperfect grasp of and no ability to calculate in imperial measures. This could have serious consequences for road safety.
  • The emphasis on conversions (from metric to imperial and vice versa) inhibits people from thinking easily and consistently in a single system. People who use metric at work constantly have to adjust to the imperial environment outside the workplace.
  • Standard derived measures, such as fuel consumption in miles per gallon or in litres per 100 kilometres, cannot easily be calculated when a mixture of units (litres and miles) is used.
  • Road contractors have to convert metric design distances into imperial for signage with consequent costs and potential for error.
  • People purchasing properties have to do extensive conversions from metric to imperial and vice versa if they wish to estimate costs of renovations.
  • The power output of different appliances cannot be compared when some (e.g. central heating boilers) are expressed in “British thermal units” (BTUs) and others (such as electric heaters) are expressed in kilowatts.
  • Overseas visitors are confused by the inconsistent mixture of measures used.

The UK Metric Association continues to push for the full adoption of the system, calling on its website for Britain to “complete the conversion to metric as soon as possible”.

It argues that Britain lives with a “hodgepodge of metric and imperial” with people using a “confused mixture of units that is not only wasteful but often not in their interest”.


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Ron Howells

Ron actually started his working career as an Ophthalmic Technician- things changed when, during a band rehearsal, his amplifier blew up and he couldn’t get it fixed so he took a course at Birmingham University and ended up doing a degree course. He built up a chain of electronics stores and sold them as a franchise over 35 years ago. After five years touring the world Ron decided to move to Spain with his wife and son, a place they had visited over the years, and only bought the villa they live in because it has a guitar-shaped swimming pool!. Playing the guitar since the age of 7, he can often be seen, (and heard!) at beach bars and clubs along the length of the coast. He has always been interested in the news and constantly thrives to present his articles in an interesting and engaging way.


    • alun

      15 June 2021 • 18:57

      What a completely retrograde step…what is the point of an outdated system like pounds shillings and pence and pints…Most young people wouldnt have a clue….change everything to metric including miles.

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