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Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to revive Britain’s traditional system of imperial measurements, such as pounds and ounces, in a post-Brexit move that has divided the public and businesses.
Coinciding with this week’s 70th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth’s coronation, the government will launch consultations on how to change the law on weights and other measurements to capitalise on freedoms after leaving the European Union.
While the bloc normally requires members to use the metric system, it allowed Britain, while a member, to label its produce in some imperial units alongside metric units. Speed limits are set in miles per hour and milk and beer are sold in pints, but most other products such as sugar are sold in grams and kilograms.
After leaving the European Union in 2020, Britain is reviewing thousands of rules that it retained and determining whether they serve the national interest. This includes the rules banning sales of packaged goods like sugar in some imperial units.
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“You will know the EU regulation required the sale of certain products under the metric system, but the prime minister has been clear he wants to consult on this later this week,” the prime minister’s spokesman said on Monday.
Some Britons hailed the plan as a way to reconnect with the past.
Kelly Wakeling stands at her market stall ALK Fruit and Veg on Portobello Road in London, Britain, May 30, 2022. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls
Cheryl Devlin, who runs a fruit-and-vegetable stall in west London, said the imperial system was part of Britain’s culture.
“It’s just nice to keep our heritage. I was brought up with pounds, shillings and pence and, you know, just why has it got to go?” she said. “Why can’t we keep what we’ve had for a hundred years?”
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But Sophie Bainsfair, living nearby, said the move would be a hassle and confusing.
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“I don’t understand why you want to go back,” she said. “It doesn’t make any sense.”