UK keeps metric system for selling after overwhelming support

LONDON: The UK government said on Wednesday (Dec 27) it had dropped its plan to start selling in imperial measures after a consultation showed 99 percent support for keeping the metric system.

Ministers had looked at changing the law after the UK’s departure from the European Union in 2020 to allow traders to use Britain’s standard weighing system – which measures in pounds and pints – only alongside the metric one.

But they decided against the move after 98.7 per cent of the 100,938 responses to an official consultation said they were happy using metric units when buying or selling a product.

“The government has analysed all consultation responses received and reviewed the arguments for and against expanding the use of imperial units in domestic consumer transactions,” a statement from the department of business and trade said.

“After careful consideration, the government has decided against any legislative changes at this time.”

The department said the UK had “a long and proud history” of using imperial measures and that their use is “closely associated with our culture and language”.

Distances in Britain are still measured in miles, while drinks and milk are also sold in pints.

The department also stated that rules would be altered to allow a 568ml “pint” size of wine to be stocked on Britain’s supermarkets, pubs, clubs and restaurant for the first time.

The move, it said, that was “ever thanks to new freedoms from leaving the European Union”.

The 568 ml size would sit alongside the 200 ml and 500 ml measures already offered, it said.

The department said the reforms were thanks to “new Brexit freedoms” gained via the Retained EU Law (Revocation and Reform) Act 2023.

“Our exit from the EU was all about moments just like this, where we can seize new opportunities and provide a real boost to our great British wineries and further growing the economy,” enterprise, markets and small business minister Kevin Hollinrake said.

During the UK’s 2019 general election campaign, former UK prime minister Boris Johnson promised that he would bring back imperial units in shops.

The former UK leader claimed that measuring in pounds and ounces was a “ancient liberty” and promised a “new era of generosity and tolerance” towards traditional measurements.

The United States, Myanmar and Liberia are the only other countries that use the royal system on a daily basis.

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