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A plan to revive imperial measurements in the UK divides the nation

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Barman serving beer in a pub
Certain measurements in Britain still use the imperial system, including sale of beer and milk, measured in pints

People in the UK are, once again divided. And this time it is not about Brexit, the Royal family, nor political parties trying to undermine each other.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement on Friday, June 3, to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, about moving away from the current metric system.

And although the British government is understood to be preparing to open a consultation into how to further incorporate imperial measurements, after the controversial Brexit – with No 10 hoping for support even in Leave-voting areas – internet users have been, somewhat, less kind with the matter.

British political activist Femi Oluwole was fast to share his views on Twitter:

“Tories: “If we change food measurements to the imperial system and change our currency back to Shillings and Pence, people won’t be able to tell how much poorer we’ve made them through Austerity and Brexit! GENIUS!” – posted the co-founder of the pro-European Union advocacy group Our Future Our Choice.

“The government is switching to imperial measurements, this is like fixing a spelling mistake on the Titanic’s menu after it struck the iceberg while they’re setting fire to all the lifeboats. “ – says London-based chef Dave Ahern.

“Politicians still don’t understand that every regulatory change brings with it a cost, certainly true of the imperial measures, but can also be true of ‘deregulatory’ measures or even the uncertainty that they may change.” – warns David Henig, UK director of the European Centre For International Political Economy.

Johnson first hinted about bringing the imperial system back in the 2019 general election campaign, when he described it as an “ancient liberty”. However, not many countries in the world still use imperial measures anymore in the 21st century and, if re-introduced in the UK, it won’t make people change their habits in a hurry.

“I’m not the great imperial/metric expert but for me as a customer, using the example of milk, being able to buy a pint of milk helps me, and definitely my elderly relatives/friends who can’t fathom metric. Smaller stores I would imagine finding imperial easier for customers.” – defends musician Nick Wilson from Wicklow, Ireland.

 

“So the UK Government wants to bring back imperial measurements? I know Metric better than imperial and don’t wanna be the old guy who says “oh back when ” was your age I used metric” drove me mad in retail” – protested freelancer web developer Glenn Marshall

 

For clinical epidemiologist and statistical geneticist Deepti Gurdasani, the plan to revive imperial measurements in UK is a political tact:

“Imperial measurement headlines are just a distraction from the fact that we have a PM who has literally changed the rules to make it impossible to be held to account after breaking the law & lying. His power holds no bounds while his party enables him. That is the real story.” – shared Gurdasani, a senior lecturer in machine learning at the Queen Mary University of London.

 

The British Imperial System was used officially in Great Britain from 1824 until the adoption of the metric system beginning in 1965. But it wasn’t until 2000 that traders have been legally required to use metric units like milligrams, grams and kilograms for sale by weight or measure of fresh produce. Certain measurements in Britain still use the imperial system, including sale of beer and milk, measured in pints, and speed limit, which in the UK is measured in miles per hour rather than kilometers.

 

Marcio Delgado is a Journalist, Producer and Influencer Marketing Manager working with brands and publications in Europe, America and Asia.

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