Britain signals intention to return to imperial system

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LONDON – The UK government has said it is taking steps to revert to its traditional system of Imperial weights and measures, allowing shops and market stalls to sell fruits and vegetables labeled in pounds and ounces only, rather than in grams and kilograms of the metric system, a move he hailed as an example of the country’s new post-Brexit freedoms.

The plans, announced Thursday by David Frost, the minister overseeing Brexit, were applauded by Brexit supporters, many of whom had argued that the switch to the metric system over the decades was a sign of unwanted Union interference European in everyday life in Great Britain. .

While the European Union currently requires its members to use the metric system only, it allowed Britain, when it was a member, to label its products in Imperial units alongside metric units. There were also exceptions for road signs and beer.

As part of its exit from the European Union, the UK government is currently reviewing thousands of EU rules it has retained and determining whether they best serve the national interest. These rules include the EU’s ban on sales in imperial units, which the UK government has said it will legislate to change “in due course”.

Since Britain formally separated from the European Union on January 1, after nearly 50 years of membership, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been touting his vision of a ‘global Britain’ that would flourish unhindered by the rules imposed by the 27-member bloc.

British officials have pointed to developments, such as the change in color of British passports from European Union burgundy to Britain’s traditional blue, which was scrapped in 1988, as bold and triumphant symbols of the new freedom of the country.

But critics, including the 48% of voters who did not support Britain’s exit, said such advances seemed small and not very helpful at a time when employers struggled to fill jobs. thousands of jobs, partly vacant due to the exodus of immigrants from the European Union. since the vote to leave the block.

Concerns over the country’s fragile economic recovery include a variety of long and confusing new procedures that have made importing and exporting goods to and from the European Union more difficult, shortages in UK supermarkets and a disagreement on unresolved trade rules for Northern Ireland. .

Nonetheless, Mr Frost, the Brexit minister, said on Thursday that the move to the imperial system would be part of the broader changes made by Britain. to “capitalize on the new freedoms of Brexit”.

“Authoritarian regulations have often been designed and approved in Brussels with little regard for the British national interest,” he said, announcing his intention to introduce legislation to change the rules. “We now have the opportunity to do things differently and ensure that the freedoms of Brexit are used to help businesses and citizens succeed and succeed. “

Tony Bennett, member of Active resistance to metric, a small group that for years have been pushing for England to return to their old weights and measures, have said they are celebrating the development.

Mr Bennett said the campaign to leave the European Union and the campaign to return to imperial measures had to do with preserving what he saw as the gradual erosion of British culture and tradition.

“The system of weights and measures is an integral part of our daily life and also of our written culture, of our language,” he said, citing expressions such as “an inch is worth a mile” and “to go from there. the front “. He estimates that he and his group have put stickers on thousands of signs in public parks and on roads that use the metric system in England over the past two decades.

Supporters of the metric system say its use is necessary for businesses to be competitive globally, as many countries use it. Fans of the metric system also point out that Britain began its switch to the metric system in 1965, eight years before it joined the European Union. Others said there were more pressing issues to focus on, such as cuts to public services.

A YouGov poll in 2015 of UK adults found that young people tended to prefer the metric system, with over 60% of 18-39 year olds saying they would measure short distances in meters, compared to less than 12% of those over 60.


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