Europe will change its clocks for the last time in 2021. Should Britain bother?

Daylight saving could mean more leisure time, less accidents and crime, and a 3 per cent boost to the economy. With so many benefits, why don't we keep it all year round. Mick O’Hare explores this complex and controversial issue

Friday 25 October 2019 09:45
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Spring forward, fall back. It’s clock-changing time this weekend and research shows that 7 per cent of people reading this will forget, which apparently leads to one missed appointment for every 15 arranged. So write yourself a note now. Winston Churchill described changing the clocks as “an extra yawn one morning in springtime, an extra snooze one night in the autumn”. The former prime minister seemed ambivalent but there are lots of people out there who simply think it’s more trouble than it’s worth. And they’ve managed to convince the European Union of their cause. Surveys last year showed most EU citizens in favour of doing away with the twice-yearly change of clocks. “The people want this, we will do this,” said European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker at the time.

And so March 2021 (or October if nations so choose) will be the last time the EU changes its clocks leaving nations permanently on either standard time (winter time) or what is known internationally as daylight saving time (summer time). Each nation is free to choose whichever it feels is best for it. Whether Britain joins them may depend on whether Brexit actually goes ahead and if it does, how un-Brexity compliance may seem to the likes of Jacob Rees-Mogg.

In the UK, which falls on the prime meridian, we have Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) from October to March and British Summer Time (BST) from March to October. BST is the British term for what is known widely elsewhere as daylight saving time (DST) and is one hour in advance of GMT. Most other countries who use daylight saving also change clocks around the same time (although there is no worldwide coordination) which as you’ll have noted is a five-month: seven-month split, not six: six as might be expected. More of that later.

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